Rory McIlroy adds Honda Classic to busy schedule ahead of Masters
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 07/12/17 7:24pm
Rory McIlroy has added the Honda Classic to his hectic spring schedule next year and faces the prospect of playing seven tournaments in a row ahead of the Masters.
McIlroy has already confirmed he will return to action after a three-month break at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January, and he will then attempt to win a third Omega Dubai Desert Classic title the following week.
The world No 10, whose 2017 campaign was hampered by a troublesome rib-joint injury which has prompted him to take a lengthy winter break, will then have a week off before heading to California to compete in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Genesis Open at Riviera.
McIlroy then returns to PGA National in Florida for the Honda Classic, an event he won in 2012 and was runner-up two years later, but he missed the first stop on the PGA Tour's Florida Swing earlier this year due to his injury.
According to his intended schedule on his website, McIlroy has yet to commit to the following week's WGC-Mexico Championship, but he has committed to play in the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, which starts on March 15.
McIlroy is also set to play at Bay Hill the following week in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, although he has not yet added the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play to his intended list of starts.
If he does tee up in the World Golf Championship events in Mexico and Texas, McIlroy will play nine tournaments in a 10-week stretch and then have just one week off before the Masters.
McIlroy needs a victory at Augusta National to join an elite list of players to complete a career Grand Slam of major titles, and he will not be lacking competitive golf ahead of his bid for an elusive Green Jacket.
The 28-year-old has not played since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October, and is using his lay-off to get himself fully fit while working on the aspects of his game he felt were letting him down over the last year.
In a statement from tournament organisers announcing McIlroy's return to the Honda Classic, the four-time major champion is quoted as saying: "I played for four months without hitting a shot from left to right. My wedge play was not very good. My iron play was not very good. It's so nice that I have this time in the off-season to work on all this stuff and make sure it hopefully never happens again.
"I feel I'm a much better player than I was in 2011 and 2012, when I was able to win a couple of majors. I feel I can do better than that in the next 10 years and that's why these three months off are very important for me to put some really good things in place, step away and just reassess where I'm at and where I need to be.
"The landscape of the game has changed a bit since I started to win majors. You have young, hungry guys now who are fearless and playing the game how I basically came out and played a few years ago. It's about gaining an advantage again here and there, just reassessing everything and making sure I'm not leaving any stone unturned and doing everything I can to get back to (being) the best player in the world.
"These three months (off) could give me the foundation to have the next 10 years be even better than the 10 years I've just had. That turns a great career into one of the greatest careers."