Refreshed McIlroy preparing for more events than ever
Rory McIlroy has provided a huge boost to the British Masters by indicating that he will play at Walton Heath later this season.
McIlroy's presence at last year's event at Close House led to record crowds as he finished second to Paul Dunne and despite the tournament coming towards the end of a hectic schedule, the four-time Major winner is ready to appear again.
The 28-year-old might play as many as 30 times this year, which would be a record in his 11-season career.
"I might play more times this year than any before," McIlroy said.
"I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that. I definitely want to play at Walton Heath. It's a great course and we (he and his wife, Erica) can stay in London."
McIlroy makes his first performance of the campaign at this week's Abu Dhabi Championship, which starts on Thursday, and after that will play in the Dubai Desert Classic, before focusing on the PGA Tour and his build-up for the Masters.
He will skip the WGC-Mexico Championship but will tee it up in six other events, meaning that, if all goes to plan, McIlroy will turn up at Augusta - where for the fourth year running he will attempt to complete the career Grand Slam - with eight tournaments under his belt.
After last year's setback at the beginning of the season, when he fractured a rib before his first start, McIlroy is determined to hit the ground running.
He feels he has benefited "immensely" from the four-month break he took following the Dunhill Links in October.
McIlroy has recovered to full fitness but believes the biggest strides he has made have been on the practice green, under the tutelage of putting coach Phil Kenyon. That and his wedge play were his noticeable weaknesses in his win-less 2017.
He has yet to win on his opening start of the season, but is confident of going one better in Abu Dhabi than his four runner-up finishes in the past seven years.
"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I had a lot of time to work with Phil and that's the point - I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good.
"It's like this new TaylorMade driver (the M3 460) that everyone is raving about. I've been using it since November and the other guys have only been using it a few weeks. I've had time to try out all this stuff and, the way I'm hitting it and the way I'm feeling, I'm excited."