(Photo: Wikipedia)

Rory McIlroy — despite speculation to the contrary — will not employ a Titleist putter when he kicks off his 2013 season on Thursday at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.

“I’m really happy with the putter that I have in the bag. I’ve practiced with it  and feel really comfortable with it,” McIlroy said in a glitzy global ceremony on Monday that marked the official welcoming of the world No. 1 onto Tiger Woods’ Team Nike.

With Nick Faldo chief among skeptics questioning McIlroy’s switch from clubs he had used since turning professional in 2007, some observers wondered whether the 23-year-old superstar would remain loyal to the Titleist Scotty Cameron Studio Select Newport GSS Prototype putter with which he won his second major championship last year.

Apparently not, though McIlroy declined to offer specifics of his deal with Nike, including whether it contained a clause that would allow him to reclaim his trusty flat stick if he were displeased with the results of his new one. Woods continued to use a Scotty Cameron model long after signing with Nike in 2000.

In leaving Massachusetts-based Titleist to play and wear exclusively Nike equipment, McIlroy is making his first manufacturer change in his six-year career as a pro. Such a move could pose risks for the word’s best golfer who played Titleist gear into a five-worldwide-win 2012 that included the PGA Championship triumph, two FedEx Cup victories (the Deutsche Bank and BMW Championships), a Ryder Cup W as part of Team Europe, and money titles on both the PGA and European Tours.

McIlroy also earned Player of the Year honors on both tours and secured his position atop the world golf rankings.

What’s in McIlroy’s Nike Golf bag?

Driver: Nike VR_S Covert Tour 9.5-degree, neutral position

Fairway Wood: Nike VR Pro Limited Edition 3-wood/15-degree and 5-wood/19-degree

Irons: Nike VR Pro Blades (3-PW)

Wedges: Nike VR Pro 54-degree and 60-degree

Putter: Nike Method 006 Prototype

Ball: Nike 20XI X

Apparel: Nike Golf Tour Performance Collection

Footwear: Nike Lunar Control


Emily Kay is a regular contributor to New England Golf Monthly. You may follow Kay on Twitter @golfexaminer