Upbeat McIlroy hopes injury a 'blessing in disguise'

After a seven-week absence, Rory McIlroy said: "I feel like I'm probably stronger now than I was in November or December."

Rory McIlroy prepares for his return to action at the WGC-Mexico Championship   -  Getty Images

Rory McIlroy returns to action at this week's WGC-Mexico Championship hoping that his recent injury lay-off could prove a "blessing in disguise".

McIlroy has been sidelined since mid-January, when he finished as the runner-up at the European Tour's South African Open despite being hampered by a rib problem.

Subsequent scans revealed a hairline fracture, but McIlroy is confident he can perform to the best of his ability this week at Club de Golf Chapultepec.

"Yeah, [I'm] good to go," said the four-time major winner, who could return to the top of the world rankings with a win.

"I'm still strapping it up and I'm still being a little bit... not protective, but careful. I'm making sure that I'm really warmed up before going out to play, a little bit of kinesio tape there just to help support it, but I've been working through the bag for the last 7-10 days and it feels really good.

"I'm actually, if anything, swinging it faster now than when I was before the injury. There was a little bit of tiredness, I'd tested a lot of clubs in the off-season and I'd made a lot of swings and I think everything just got a little bit tired. The muscles stiffened up, didn't really want to work as hard any more, the joint stiffened up and then the rib had nothing to move it, so that's what happened.

"So I feel like I'm probably stronger now than I was in November or December last year. Hopefully it's a blessing in disguise."

Asked if he felt he was behind his rivals in terms of preparation for the Masters, which begins on April 6, McIlroy replied: "I don't know. Honestly, I haven't thought much about Augusta - my biggest concern has just been getting healthy and being able to get back here. That's all I've really been concentrating on.

"I think it's nice I get to play four rounds, see where my game is, take the week off next week, re-assess, how does my body feel, how does my game feel?

"And then from there I can start to think about the Masters and think about what I really need to do to get ready for Augusta. I don't feel that far behind - I come in here this week with a chance to get back to number one in the world.

"But in terms of maybe preparation and just rounds played, yeah, I haven't had the reps and the rounds. Hopefully over these next three competitive weeks that I'm playing - here, [the Arnold Palmer Invitational at] Bay Hill and the [WGC] Match Play, hopefully I can get that and hopefully I feel like I've played enough to go into Augusta and feel ready and not feel underprepared."

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