ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — After completing only the second winless season of his 10-year professional career, Rory McIlroy will put his clubs away for six weeks and plot a way to regain his aura of old.
McIlroy finished a frustrating, injury-hit 2017 season with an even-par 72 at St. Andrews in his final round at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
"It summed up my whole of 2017: Not much happening," McIlroy said. "Couldn't get out of neutral."
Former top-ranked McIlroy, who has had two spells out of action this year because of injury, has dropped to No. 6 in the world — behind players like 24-year-old Americans Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas and rising Spanish star Jon Rahm, who is age 22. The last of McIlroy's four majors came at the PGA Championship in 2014.
"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," the 28-year-old McIlroy said. "I feel I can do better than that in the next 10 years and that's why these next three months 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 go. It's about gaining an advantage again here and there. Just reassessing everything and making sure I'm not leaving any stone unturned and do everything I can to get back to (being) the best player in the world."
McIlroy said he will not start hitting balls again until the end of November, and will focus on rehab and "getting my body right." A rib injury sustained at the SA Open in January forced him to have six weeks off, and the problem resurfaced at times.
Putting and wedge play have been his biggest weaknesses this year, said McIlroy, who added that "basically all areas of my game could get a little bit better."
McIlroy turned pro in 2007 and failed to win a title the following year. Since 2009, he has won 21 titles worldwide.