ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Rory McIlroy is ahead of schedule after his three-month sabbatical.
Look out world of golf.
The former World No. 1 finished third in the $3 million Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. That’s better than he was expecting in his first tournament back after last October’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
McIlory, a four-time major winner, finished T-3 with Matthew Fitzpatrick, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood, and two behind Ross Fisher.
“I didn’t really know what my expectations were coming into this week,” McIlroy said. “I just wanted to get back on the golf course and play again. I’ve done that, and I’ve played pretty well. Felt like I did everything I wanted to do.
“I know it’s only three months, but things change and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was probably the most pleasing thing.”
McIlory might have pushed Fleetwood harder if he had putted better. That’s where his competitive rust showed the most. However, the most important thing is he’s fit and healthy with no sign of the rib injury that hindered him last year.
“Feeling good. I’ll probably take a day off tomorrow. It’s been quite a build up to this, playing every day and practicing.
“It’s just something I’m going to have to keep on top of. It’s something that I’m wary of now. I know that there’s certain vulnerabilities in my body like there is with everyone. I used to have to look after my lower back in the early days and now that’s fine. Just going to have to look after this for a while, but it’s totally fine. I’m 100 percent and yeah, as I say, I can’t wait to get at it again next week.
“My body held up really well.”
Apart from a slightly rusty putting stroke, so did his game. That bodes well for his chances of winning this week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic, and for the rest of McIlroy’s season.