Rory McIlroy Looks Forward to Refreshed and Healthier 2018
Rory McIlroy is already looking forward to a required period of respite from the game as he builds towards better things in 2018, with his fortnightly UK season-ending sojourn beginning in earnest this week at the eagerly anticipated British Masters from Close House in Newcastle.
It’s been an eventual time for the Northern Irishman, including a change of club manufacturer and most notably marrying his fiancé Erica Stoll. But from a results standpoint, this campaign ranks among the most disappointing of his now decade-old professional career. He’s been winless over 16 events in 2017, with just six top ten finishes recorded as the likes of Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas have brushed the four-time major champion aside in the headlines.
Having been impaired by a rib injury over the winter during the process of testing equipment, and recurring inflammation, there have been gaps in the schedule and weeks in which he couldn’t work on his game without feeling inhibited. These frustrations – aligned with failing to qualify for the Tour Championship – led to the 28-year-old declaring that his year would end early at the Alfred Dunhill Links in St. Andrews, with the North-East showpiece being added later after he missed out on East Lake.
“I don't feel like I can go out there all day and practice,” McIlroy explained to the assembled media. “I feel at some point, I'd have to take a bit of time to let it rest, and I can feel it sort of stiffening up and getting a little bit sore. It's not as if I can go full bore at it like I want to.
“But hopefully by giving it that six-week or eight-week rest, I'll be able to fully practice and prepare, and as I said at the start, not feel like I'm playing catch-up at every tournament, because I feel like I haven't been able to do the preparation that will allow me to play my best golf.”
That clearly hasn’t been the case, even throughout the busy summer when he finished in the top five at both the Open and WGC Bridgestone Invitational. Despite that performance at Royal Birkdale, further change descended upon McIlroy’s world as he ended his longstanding partnership with caddie J.P. Fitzgerald, and he’s now looking forward to taking stock and fully recuperating from that troublesome injury after playing alongside his father at the Home of Golf next week.
“I'm taking a ten-day holiday after the Dunhill,” he continued. “Then once I get back, doing quite a bit of (health) testing, sort of 19th and 20th of October. Then it's sort of, I'll start to execute the plan that we have going forward.
“So, I'll take a few days off and rest. Sort of enjoy myself a little bit, and then I'll get back inside. I don't anticipate hitting golf balls until the end of November, but depending on how I feel, it could be earlier than that.”
During the heat of the major season, there was an impression that Rory – to his credit – was somewhat concealing the severity of the problem and the constraining impact it had on his game. However, in more recent weeks, the Ryder Cup stalwart has been more candid about the necessity to have a break from competitive golf and allow himself to fully recover.
“I think just a four- to six-week break without really doing anything and really concentrating on rehab exercises and doing all that stuff, I'll be fine.
“I just haven't given myself that little more prolonged length of time to let it fully heal and let it feel 100 per cent. I don't feel that far away. I feel better now than I did starting the FedExCup Playoffs, so that's a good thing, and that hopefully bodes well for these next few weeks in terms of rehab.”
Despite the supreme achievements of twentysomething Americans this year, McIlroy’s four majors remain the barometer of this generation. The career grand slam remains a clear objective, as does regaining the trophy for Europe next September at Le Golf National. Most of all, the former world number one simply wants to be actively involved with those top players in the biggest tournaments, competing and contending alongside them. It’s a prospect that all golf fans would relish seeing, as the young man from Holywood enters the second decade of his already illustrious career.
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