Rory McIlroy hopes to hit the ground running ahead of next year’s Masters following an injury-interrupted season that left the former world number one “dejected”.
The Northern Irishman brought his 2017 campaign to a premature conclusion following the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in a bid to fully recover from the rib injury that has troubled him since January.
Now ranked sixth, McIlroy narrowly escaped missing the cut and ultimately finished in a distant share of 63rd in Scotland.
He has not enjoyed a tournament victory since claiming the Tour Championship in September 2016 but is determined to come back stronger after a period of rest and rehabilitation.
“I planned on playing a heavy schedule into Augusta this year and that didn’t quite pan out because I missed a few events because of injury and I plan on playing a heavy schedule going into Augusta next year,” McIlroy said in St Andrews on Sunday.
“It would be nice to get a win or two heading into Augusta and get my confidence up and feel like I’ve really hit the ground running.”
Of his condition, the 28-year-old added: “A golfer’s prime should be late 20s, early 30s. From now until 2027, end of that year, I’ll be 37, 38 years of age, I feel like it’s the prime of my career, to really make the most of it. I feel like I can achieve a lot more in the game.”
That. Drive. pic.twitter.com/F2FKh6RYsD
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) October 5, 2017
McIlroy identified the US PGA Championship in August, when he finished tied for 22nd, as his lowest point in an unfamiliar and extended period of physical struggle.
“Probably Quail Hollow was the one for me,” he said when asked about what has proved to be – by his own high standards – something of an annus horribilis.
“Because that’s been a course that I’ve been so good on before. I felt like that was a great chance to add to that major tally… I just wasn’t in complete control of my golf game.
“It was a big opportunity for me and I felt like I didn’t do much well then.
“I was just so dejected because I didn’t see light at the end of the tunnel this year. I didn’t see myself winning, I didn’t see myself in contention. I was sort of thinking, ‘what’s the point?’.”
McIlroy has not added to his tally of four major titles since winning a second PGA Championship at Valhalla in 2014.