Sport Golf

Thursday 14 December 2017

McIlroy making slow start to recovery

Rory McIlroy welcomed plans for a radical overhaul of the rules of golf. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy welcomed plans for a radical overhaul of the rules of golf. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Rory McIlroy has become a fan of the TV detective drama 'Sherlock' as he recovers from his rib injury and yesterday he solved the mystery of his comeback date to tournament golf.

The world No 2, sidelined by a rib stress fracture which emerged during the recent SA Open, has targeted the WGC-Mexico Championship, to be played from March 2-5, for a return to active duty.

This concurs with the opinion of medical professionals who estimated the recovery time from the type of injury McIlroy suffered would be four to six weeks.

Sports medicine practitioners interviewed about rib stress fractures said they arise from over-use and not from heavy gym work.

McIlroy, speaking to Fox Sports' Shane Bacon on 'The Clubhouse' podcast, confirmed that diagnosis yesterday.

Due to Nike opting out of manufacturing golf equipment, McIlroy has been obliged, for the first time in four years, to put together a set of clubs that suits his game.

He was deluged with offerings from all the main manufacturers and engaged in intensive sessions of equipment and ball testing in the off-season.

That, combined with trying to make a small swing change to get the club more in front of him on the backswing, did the damage.

"I knew it was going to be a busy off season with everything I had to get sorted, but I never imagined that hitting so many balls would lead to this, but that's the way it goes.

"Now I'm just focused on trying to get as healthy as possible before we tee it up again in a few weeks," said McIlroy.

Inevitably, with a rib problem, his activity has been restricted.

No golf swings, no gym work, no running. His main exercise right now is walking, and he does a minimum of five miles a day.

Over the past week he has watched Australian Open tennis as well as getting into the 'Sherlock' series starring Benedict Cumberbatch on Netflix, but McIlroy's mood is good and his outlook very positive.

"Watching a lot of tennis, watched Nadal today, watched Federer yesterday. Started watching 'Sherlock' which is more of a British TV show with Benedict Cumberbatch on Netflix. It's actually been OK," he said.

"It's been a week where I haven't really done much, but did 45 minutes in the gym today starting a little bit of rehab stuff, just trying to make sure the movement is all there and making sure there's range and everything, so today has been much better than the past few days."

The unexpected lay-off has implications for McIlroy's bid for a fifth Major and a career Grand Slam at the Masters in Augusta from April 6-9, a month after the tournament in Mexico City.

McIlroy could be downcast about the interruption to his build-up plans for the first Major of the season but he prefers to take an optimistic view.


"Obviously this probably isn't the perfect preparation but at the same time it could be a blessing in disguise.

"It gives me five or six weeks where I can just purely work on my short game this year, so there's no excuses going to Augusta about not having a sharp short game this year, so we'll see," he said.

One of the many attractions of The Masters for players and fans is that it is played at the same venue every year.

The course usually features some tweaks and changes but, in essence, the lay-out remains unchanged, and that can prove helpful to a player in McIlroy's situation.

"It's basically what you see is what you get with Augusta. Going up the week before or even the practice rounds on Monday through Wednesday, you're just going out there to get a feel of the course, try out certain shots that you feel comfortable with.

"At the end of the day, you can do all the preparation you want, and you can know every line of every putt and you can do whatever, but if your execution isn't there, that preparation isn't going to help you.

"I'd much rather go into the Masters feeling comfortable with my game and knowing that everything is on song and firing and I'm comfortable.

"Play a couple of practice rounds, get your feel for it, or whatever, and just go play because at the end of the day you have to execute under the gun, and that's the most important thing."

"As I said, short game is obviously huge around there. I've no excuses this year. I've got a lot of time on my hands to chip and putt the next few weeks. Hopefully I can make the most of that," he said.

Meanwhile, Pádraig Harrington and Shane Lowry start their 2017 campaign along with Seamus Power in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines this week which features Tiger Woods' comeback.

Graeme McDowell and Paul Dunne play the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in Doha on the European Tour.

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