It appears that the game’s top gun, Rory McIlroy, is testing a new driver at the Ryder Cup this week.
McIlroy, who finished third on the PGA Tour in driving distance (310.5 yards) and 16th in total driving during the just-concluded 2013-14 season, was spotted at Gleneagles with a yet-to-be-announced Nike Vapor driver. Four versions of the company’s Vapor driver recently appeared on the USGA’s "List of Conforming Driver Heads." The club McIlroy was pictured with looks most similar to the Nike Vapor Pro.
The driver has a deep cavity (just like in the Nike Covert 2.0 driver McIlroy has been using this season) plus a channel along the sole that likely is designed to increase ball speed on shots hit low on the face. It has a black head -- a dramatic change from the red Covert 2.0 -- and light green accents in the cavity and sole.
How likely is McIlroy to change to a new driver this week? After all, he is arguably the world's best driver of the golf ball, a fact much in evidence when he won three consecutive events this summer at the British Open, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship. A last-minute switch has the potential to backfire -- for both player and sponsor. Remember when Phil Mickelson elected to use the Ryder Cup as a tune-up with his new Callaway equipment in 2004 and played poorly all week?
Nike has yet to confirm whether McIlroy will have the Vapor driver in the bag this week. If he does, expect it to be a topic of conversation through Sunday.