Rory McIlroy has refused to confirm he has a sponsorship agreement with Nike but the world's No1 golfer has admitted to "trying a few new things" ahead of an imminent equipment change.
McIlroy is expected to join the Nike brand for the start of 2013, in a deal reportedly worth up to $250m (£157m) over a decade. For now, all that has been announced is that the 23-year-old will end his association with Titleist, with whom he has been signed since turning professional in 2007.
"I've started the process of trying a few new things," said McIlroy ahead of the Dubai World Championship. "Obviously I'm still playing with my Titleist clubs this week. This is the last week that I will. But I've tinkered about a little bit and I've tinkered about enough to feel comfortable going into next season."
McIlroy said onlookers would "have to see" if he emerges in Nike apparel at his next event, in Abu Dhabi in January. He was more forthcoming, though, when denying a change of clubs could halt his stunning climb to the top of the game.
"No, not at all," he said. "I think all of the manufacturers make great equipment nowadays and it's all very, very similar. A lot of the manufacturers get their clubs made at the same factories as each other. A lot of the stuff they produce is very similar. I don't think it will make a difference at all."
McIlroy's move to Nike will conclude a year-long spell in which he has also put his home in Northern Ireland up for sale and moved management company. He admitted the prospect of a more settled situation is welcome.
"There has definitely been a few changes in the last 18 months or so, I guess just in terms of what my on-course achievements have brought," he added. "So yes, in a way it will be nice that I know how my life is and to have no big changes coming up. I'm not saying that my life is unstable, because it is very stable, but it will be nice to have a little bit more stability in everything."
McIlroy has already won the European Tour's Race to Dubai title and trophy ahead of its final tournament and has spoken about cutting back on a busy schedule next year. In public, at least, he retains signs of a competitive edge at the Earth Course. "Obviously I am very proud and honoured to have won the Race to Dubai," he said. "I've had four gos at it since 2009 and came very close a couple of times. It was great to do it this year.
"It has been a phenomenal year. I've still got one tournament to go and I want to finish the year strong. I would like to pick up two trophies at the end of the week. You have to stay right to the end so I may as well make it matter."
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