Golf – European Tour – Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – Kingsbarns, Britain – October 7, 2017 Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland after completing his third round Action Images via Reuters/Craig Brough
December 9, 2017
(Reuters) – Rory McIlroy has announced he will play at least seven events in early 2018 in a busy build-up to the U.S. Masters, where he will attempt to complete the grand slam of major titles in April.
McIlroy said on his website (www.rorymcilroy.com) that he would start his campaign with two European Tour events in the Middle East in January — the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and Dubai Desert Classic.
The Northern Irishman will then switch his focus to the PGA Tour in the United States, where he will contest five tournaments in six weeks, starting at Pebble Beach in February.
His schedule, notably, includes no mention of the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship, which falls in the middle of his busy stretch.
All of the events will be part of his preparation for the April 5-8 Masters at Augusta National, an event he needs to win to complete the modern grand slam of all four majors.
Former world number one McIlroy is currently having an extended break from competition after an injury-hampered 2017 during which he did not win a tournament anywhere in the world for the first time since 2008.
The four-times major winner also sacked long-time caddie J.P. Fitzgerald and replaced him with close friend Harry Diamond, who is expected to stay on the bag, according to media reports.
McIlroy, 28, has slipped to 10th in the world rankings.
He faces an important season as he attempts to keep pace with the wave of young talent such as Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka, who all won majors this year.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Adelaide, Australia; Editing by John O’Brien)