Darren Clarke has backed Rory McIlroy to bounce back from his injury problems and return to top form in 2018.
McIlroy suffered a rib injury during the SA Open in January and has struggled for fitness and form throughout a winless campaign, limiting his schedule to 15 worldwide events in 2017.
The four-time major champion announced ahead of the FedExCup play-offs that he would be shutting down from competitive golf for the rest of the year after next month’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
McIlroy is without a win since his play-off success at last year’s Tour Championship and faces a battle to defend his FedExCup title, with a missed cut at the Dell Technologies Championship seeing him drop to 51st in the standings.
The Northern Irishman has dropped to world No 6 and is in danger of going a full calendar year without a victory for the first time since 2008, although Clarke expects him to benefit from an extended break.
“To try and play through an injury that’s niggling away, it restricts you,” Clarke told The National. “It’s a difficult thing.
“Then he had a limited playing schedule early because of his injury, didn’t get into any real flow and, when he did play, he pushed himself too hard.
“It never gave him any chance to get any real momentum this year and momentum is huge whenever you’re up at that standard of golf.
“But Rory is the most talented player in the world, so he’ll be fine. He’ll go see all the right people and put that injury to bed and get himself right. When he does he’ll hopefully come out firing.”
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September 14, 2017, 7:00pm
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