| ABU DHABI
ABU DHABI Jan 19 World number one Rory McIlroy always knew it would take time to adjust to his new Nike equipment and will not be perturbed at missing the cut in the Abu Dhabi Championship, according to his manager.
McIlroy, who signed a multi-year contract with the U.S. sportswear firm on Monday that according to media reports is worth around $250 million, carded his second successive three-over 75 on Friday and failed to qualify for the final two rounds here.
"It's going to take time," manager Conor Ridge told reporters. "He's got to work the clubs in gradually.
"It was always going to be that way, he knew that from the start. Some things will not be quite right at first and some things will be perfect.
"A couple of things will take a few weeks to get used to. He won't be concerned by this, trust me. You can't make a change like that and just seamlessly hit the tracks straight away, it's just not normal."
Ridge said McIlroy simply did not play well in his first competitive outing with his new clubs.
"He even said himself at the start of the week that it was going to be an unknown going into tournament play versus what he was doing on the practice range," Ridge said.
"I think if he had 14 Titleist clubs in his bag...it would have been exactly the same."
McIlroy's appearance at the European Tour event in Abu Dhabi was his first outing since he won the end-of-season DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in November.
The 23-year-old Northern Irishman will now take another long break before returning in four weeks' time at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona.
"The reason he played here is because he knew he could take a couple of weeks of testing, a couple of weeks of practice, play a tournament and then have another four weeks to work on it again," said Ridge.
"I actually think it's going to work out well that way."
The key for U.S. PGA champion McIlroy is to be ready for the first major of the season, the U.S. Masters in April.
"As long as I feel like my game is in good shape heading into Augusta that's all I'm worried about," he said on Friday.
(Editing by Stephen Wood)