• McIlroy ready for Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after lay-off
• ‘It felt like a sabbatical’ he says after break to let rib injury heal
If the clear mitigating circumstance of injury provides context, it is still worthy of note that 16 months have passed since Rory McIlroy last won a tournament.
Having pressed the reset button on his career the only danger attached to the 28-year-old’s return to competitive action after a lay-off since early October may resonate in a rush to return to the podium. A fascinating build-up to the Masters – which will include an unprecedented eight tournament appearances – begins from Thursday in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy missed this event in 2017 because of the rib problem that disrupted the rest of his year.