Rory McIlroy is looking for two strong finishes in the UK in the next two weeks to finish his 2016 season before heading into a three month period of recovery ahead of a packed 2018 season.
McIlroy, who tees it up at the British Masters at Close House this week before heading to Scotland for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, is happy to be rounding off his season on British soil.
“This week is a bit of an unexpected addition but I’m happy to be here. I haven’t played in the British Masters since 2008 when it was at The Belfry and I’m happy to be back,” said McIlroy.
“I’ve got this week, next week, and then I’m taking a few weeks off to try and get a bit better and a bit healthier.”
McIlroy, who played alongside Vernon Kay in the pre-tournament celebrity pro am on Wednesday admitted the Colt Course at Close House would take a little bit of getting used to this week.
“It’s a course where you have to know it. There are a lot of tee shots which I’m going to have to go look at in the yardage book and familiarise myself with. It’s also a bit hilly and there quite a few elevation changes that you have to get used to as well.
“The course in great shape for the time of year and with the weather that this part of the world gets. I thought it played pretty tough today with a bit of wind. There aren’t many opportunities to score on the front nine either though there’s a few shorter holes on the back. Overall, I think it will be a decent test,” added McIlroy.
McIlroy arrived in the North East following a couple of days of practice in the Bahamas and admitted he could feel the buzz around the event already.
“I’ve definitely felt the enthusiasm. You can tell that a big golf tournament hasn’t been here for a long time. It’s great to see the locals are getting into it and embracing it.
“Hopefully we have a good winner before four o’clock on Sunday afternoon and then Newcastle United can beat Liverpool,” added McIlroy.
Having started his professional career at the 2007 British Masters at the Belfry 10 years ago, McIlroy admitted he would have been very happy had he been able to foresee reaching his position in the game by the age of 28.
“Ten years goes quickly. If someone had told me then that I’d do what I have in my first 10 years as a pro I would have been really happy.
“Because of the experiences I’ve had in those ten years and the golfer I have become, I feel like the next 10 years can be even better.”
“These next few months are going to be very important in terms of what I want to do going forward. These few months could give me the foundation to make these next ten years even better than the ten years I have just had. It can turn a great career into one of the greatest careers, that’s why I am looking forward to it.”
Following his break this winter, McIlroy is aiming to play his busiest schedule since turning professional in 2018.
“I’m playing a lot next year and I’m looking forward to it. The Ryder Cup is going to be my 26th event of the year and we’ll see what happens after that.
“I’m looking forward to playing more events – the more I play the more chances I give myself to win.
“I like to play golf and I feel like I’ve missed out this year. I’ve got a wife who likes to travel, I haven’t got kids yet, it’s perfect.”
McIlroy will join Andy Sullivan and Matt Fitzpatrick for the first two rounds of the British Masters – teeing off from the 10th on Thursday at 8.10am.