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Woods in a good place mentally, says McIlroy

Tiger Woods Rory McIlroy - cropped
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy at the 2015 Masters

Rory McIlroy says Tiger Woods is in a "good place" mentally as the 14-time major champion aims to overcome yet another injury setback.

Woods has been blighted by back problems in recent years and his latest comeback, following more than a year on the sidelines, proved both brief and unsuccessful.

After announcing plans to play four events in quick succession during January and February, Woods missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open before withdrawing from the following week's Dubai Desert Classic ahead of his second round, citing back spasms.

The 41-year-old has yet to set a date for a potential return, but McIlroy - back from a seven-week lay-off of his own at this week's WGC-Mexico Championship - insists Woods is doing his best to resume his career at the earliest opportunity.

"I actually had lunch with him last week and we had a great time, just the two of us sat down," said McIlroy.

"I think the good thing is mentally he's in a good place. He's got other things in his life that he's interested in and it's not as if it's just golf.

"He's struggled with his body over the past couple years and it's unfortunate because it just won't allow him to do what he wants to do. It's tough, but I know that he's working hard to try and get back. It just takes time.

"However long it is that it takes him to be healthy enough to get out here and play, even if he plays eight to 10 times a year, that's a bonus for all of us. It's a bonus for him, it's a bonus for us, it's a bonus for golf in general just to have him involved."

McIlroy also addressed the controversy surrounding his decision to play golf alongside American president Donald Trump last month, which prompted the Northern Irishman to issue a statement defending his actions.

"Obviously we know how the campaign went and how divisive it was. I just approached it, as I said in my statement, as a round of golf," added the 27-year-old.

"To go there and see 30 secret service and 30 cops and snipers in the trees, it was just a surreal experience for me to see something like that. And that was part of the reason I wanted to go and play. If it had been President Obama I would have gone to play. I've played golf with President Clinton, I've spent time with President Bush.

"I was a little bit taken aback by the blowback I received, but I get why. I get the divisive rhetoric and everything that was said [by Trump during his election campaign]. I was just doing what I felt was respectful.

"The president of the United States phones you up and wants to play golf with you. I wasn't going to say no. I'm sorry if I sort of p***** people off but I felt I was in a position where I couldn't really do anything but say yes. I don't agree with everything that he says but it is what it is. I'm not an American. I can't change the way the political system is there. I can't vote."

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