Rory McIlroy. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/AFP/SAM GREENWOOD
Rory McIlroy. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/AFP/SAM GREENWOOD

Abu Dhabi — Rory McIlroy has expressed confidence he will soon rediscover his winning touch ahead of his return to competitive golf following 100 days of forced absence and off-season break in this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

McIlroy, a four-time Major champion and a former world No1 who has slipped to 11, endured an injury-ravaged 2017 after a stress fracture of a rib in his opening event of the year.

He was also diagnosed with a minor heart ailment and did not play in any tournaments after the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October.

"I’m excited to be back at a golf tournament. It’s been a while," he said.

"You know, the last few months have been really nice just to concentrate on a few things I needed to take care of in terms of getting myself fit and healthy to come back and sharpen up a few things in my game," said McIlroy.

He said he had lost 2kg since October after changing his diet, while at the same time adding more muscle mass.

"Obviously, this is the first real test of getting back and seeing how I am. So I’m looking forward to just getting out there and seeing how I perform.

"It’s a place I’ve done well before and obviously a golf course I know well, so it’s a comfortable place to come back and make a fresh start of the year," he said.

McIlroy, from Northern Ireland, said he had started getting back into his routine from late November and felt his game was in a good position to contend after 10 days of solid practice in Dubai in the new year.

"I’d love to win again. I don’t think there’s any better feeling than winning a golf tournament. But I don’t feel like it’s that far away," said McIlroy, whose last win was at the 2016 Tour Championship in Atlanta.

The reigning European No1, Tommy Fleetwood, is the defending champion in the $3m tournament, which also features world No1 Dustin Johnson of the US, No6 Justin Rose of England and No9 Henrik Stenson of Sweden.

AFP

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