Rory McIlroy looking to bounce back from injury and return to World No. 1 in Mexico
Rory McIlroy is back in action this week at the WGC-Mexico Championships amidst mixed expectations and a brand new PGA Tour venue. It will be his first start since losing in a playoff to Graeme Storm at the BMW SA Open in mid-January.
The 2016 FedEx cup champion was forced to miss four tournaments due to a fractured rib he sustained while testing clubs during the off-season. McIlroy has manged only three starts in 16 weeks since winning the Tour championship and the FedEx Cup at the back end of 2016. He ticked off one of his career goals by lifting the FedEx cup after coming close in previous years.
The Northern Irishman showed a lot of promise in South Africa keeping in mind that he has had slow starts to his seasons in previous years.
There’s a few changes that McIlroy will have to contend with this week, including a venue change from the Blue Monster course at Trump Doral which is quite wide open to the
narrow, tree-lined Golf Club de Chapultepec, more than 7,300 feet about sea level.
He was seen hitting his 8 iron 210 yards in Tuesday’s practice round, a bit of an adjustment for McIlroy to say the least considering he’s particularly short on tournament rounds. It’ll be hard for McIlroy to connect the dots for now, and rightfully so.
“It’s been frustrating because I feel like I started the year playing so well in South Africa,” McIlroy said. “I don’t feel that far behind -- I come in here this week with a chance to get back to No. 1 in the world -- but in terms of maybe preparation and rounds played or reps as someone in the golf world usually says, yeah, I haven’t had the reps and the rounds.”
In the time that Rory has missed due to injury, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Thomas have all won, with Thomas having done so twice in 2017 (and shot 59) and Johnson moving to No. 1 in the world.
The 4-time major champion can indeed make it a memorable return and move back to world No. 1 after 528 days by winning the event. It would require the red-hot Johnson to finish in a two-way tie for third or worse.
Having been diagnosed with the injury that initially was a mystery, Rory didn’t touch a club for 10 days before getting back to working on his short game and putting, adding that it should be sharp heading into this event given all the time he has been able to spend on it.
Don’t expect a sluggish McIlroy to show up in Mexico when the gun goes off on Thursday as he doesn’t particularly feel behind schedule having played a few rounds, including with President Trump and against Dustin Johnson at The Bear’s Club near his home in South Florida, where McIlroy and his manager halved a match against the No. 1 player and a friend of Johnson’s from TaylorMade.
McIlroy also featured at the pro-member event at Seminole Golf Club on Moday before heading to Mexico for the WGC event.
“We were joking, it was quite a week for me,” McIlroy said. “I got to play with the President of the United States and the best golfer in the world.
“But no, it was good to see where my game was at. I was hitting the ball really well. I snuck it by [Johnson] a couple of times, which was quite nice to see. … The last time I did play competitively I played all right so hopefully I can just pick up where I left off.”
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We leave you with a video of Rory’s swing during Tuesday’s practice round: