Sport Golf

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Rory McIlroy edging back to full fitness and targeting Race to Dubai title

Rory McIlroy suffered a frustrating day on the greens in the final round of the event in California
Rory McIlroy suffered a frustrating day on the greens in the final round of the event in California

Former world number one Rory McIlroy believes he is close to full fitness as he seeks to end an injury-disrupted season in style by claiming a third Race to Dubai title.

McIlroy ruptured a ligament in his left ankle during a game of football with friends on July 4, ruling him out of the Scottish Open and the defence of his Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational titles.

The 26-year-old returned to action in time to defend his US PGA title at Whistling Straits and played in three of the FedEx Cup play-off events before starting the new PGA Tour season with a tie for 26th in the Open in California.

This season's European Tour still has four events remaining and McIlroy, who enjoys a 271,214-point lead over Danny Willett in the Race to Dubai, will play in this week's Turkish Airlines Open, the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

"I guess I'm more concerned about form than fitness at this point. My fitness is totally fine," McIlroy told a pre-tournament press conference on Wednesday, where it was announced the Turkish Airlines Open will continue on the European Tour until 2018 at a new venue of Carya Golf Club. "I'm pretty much back to where I need to be.

"I've started to train the way I was before the injury again, and I'm happy about that. So I'm trying to get my game back into the shape that I know that I can and feel like I've made a few steps in the right direction.

"This week is another opportunity to see where my game is, try and get into contention and try to win.

"I feel like a lot's happened and a lot of time has gone by since that last win of mine back in May (Wells Fargo Championship). I want to try and get back into contention and there is no better place than this week.

"It would mean an awful lot to win the Race to Dubai. I had a great chance back in 2009 to win and didn't quite; Lee (Westwood) pipped me there.

"I had a great season in 2012 and was able to win with probably one of the best finishes I've had in a golf tournament, finishing with five birdies in Dubai to win the tournament and win the overall thing."

Last year McIlroy's four tournament victories - including the Open and US PGA - meant he had the title secured before the final event in Dubai, where he finished second behind Ryder Cup team-mate Henrik Stenson.

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