A month removed from a missed cut in Abu Dhabi, his only competitive appearance of the new year, Rory McIlroy makes his PGA Tour debut this week at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. He brings with him to Tucson a series of questions, the chief one being how vigorously he will defend his No. 1 spot against the rapidly improving No. 2, Rory's new BFF, Tiger Woods.
Probably the most overblown concern when it comes to McIlroy is his equipment change. While it's true that he has 14 new variables in his bag and that there will certainly be a learning curve, the techno-geeks at Nike, like at all equipment companies, are so good at what they do they will find what works for him. And that will happen sooner rather than later.
From where I sit, what's in the bag for Rory is less important at this point than what is in his head. Is he ready this time to assume the challenges of being No. 1?