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Frustrated Rory McIlroy out to find some positives at British Masters

 

By Adam McKendry

Rory McIlroy has confirmed he will play in the British Masters at Close House next week as he aims to finish a dismal 2017 on a positive note.

Four-time Major winner McIlroy missed the cut in the recent Dell Technologies Championship and could only manage a tie for 58th at the BMW Championship, which means he misses this weekend's Tour Championship and a chance to retain the FedEx Cup.

The Ulsterman also finds himself down to eighth in the latest world rankings, his lowest position since April 2011 and a reflection on his recent struggles.

The former World No.1 has endured an injury-plagued season and appeared set to only be playing the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, alongside his father Gerry, from October 5-8 before taking several months off to fully recover from a lingering rib injury.

However, the 28-year-old, keen to avoid just his second full winless season since turning professional, is now scheduled to join the likes of Masters champion Sergio Garcia and tournament host Lee Westwood in Newcastle next weekend.

"I am looking forward to playing my first British Masters for a while," McIlroy said.

"I kind of had it in the back of my mind that if I didn't make the (PGA) Tour Championship then there was a chance to tee it up at Close House, so I have decided to do that before finishing my season off the next week at the Dunhill Links.

"Teeing it up next week gives me one more chance to end 2017 on a high as well.

"If I can sign off the year with a win or two in Newcastle and then St Andrews I would take so many positives into my six-week recovery period when I am going to reset mentally and physically and concentrate on getting myself in the right shape for next year."

It will be a welcome return for McIlroy to the tournament where he made his professional debut 10 years ago as a fresh-faced 18-year-old.

Back then he finished at a respectable two over par around the Belfry in a tournament won by this year's host Westwood.

While a win this week would put a lot of gloss on what has been an underwhelming season for McIlroy, arguably just a showing of a return to form would be good.

The Holywood man has only recorded six top-10 finishes in his 16 events this year, and has also missed four cuts.

His performances in the FedEx Cup play-offs were also well below par, a missed cut in Boston sandwiched between 34th- and 58th-placed finishes, ensuring he won't be playing in the Tour Championship for the first time since 2013.

His Major results were marginally better, with fourth at The Open at Royal Birkdale his best finish, however another missed cut at the US Open at Erin Hills was the most notable performance of the four.

But he will be most disappointed at his July results, missing the cut at both the Irish Open at Portstewart, which he hosted, and then at the Scottish Open a week later.

Whether he ever recovered from the rib injury he sustained in South Africa in January is up for debate.

But the bottom line is simple. Barring two wins to finish his year, this will be one to forget for McIlroy.

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