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Rory will battle on for victory

 

By Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy is not prepared to go winless for the first time since 2008 and jets off to New York on Sunday hoping to play all four FedEx Cup Playoffs events after all.

The Co Down man (28) hinted at Quail Hollow last Sunday that he was giving serious consideration to taking the rest of the year off to allow his niggling rib injury to heal completely.

"You might not see me until next year, you might see me in a couple of weeks time," McIlroy said in Charlotte. "It really depends... the more I play, it's just not allowing that time to heal 100%."

But after flying back to Northern Ireland this week and consulting with his fitness advisor Dr Steve McGregor, he is now determined to play all four Playoff events.

The move is a bold one by the four-time Major winner, who lost his World No.1 ranking in September 2015 and has now gone three years without adding to his Major haul.

He's described his season as a transitional one following his marriage to American Erica Stoll in April and his decision to sign a $100m equipment and golf ball deal with TaylorMade after his apparel provider Nike exited the golf equipment market last year.

Two of McIlroy's last three seasons have been hit by injury, and with Dustin Johnson and 20-somethings Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas emerging as major winners and Jon Rahm bursting onto the scene since Rory captured the 2014 US PGA, getting back to World No.1 will be a major task.

McIlroy had hoped to turn his season around at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the US PGA at Quail Hollow - two venues where he had racked up three wins and eight top-10 finishes in 13 appearances.

But after finishing tied fifth in Akron, nine shots behind Hideki Matsuyama, and tied 22nd last Sunday, nine shots behind Thomas in Charlotte, his decision to suit up and chase the $10m (£7.76m) FedEx Cup jackpot shows his determination to end the season with at least one win and regain his status as golf's top dog.

"There's been decent results in there, but decent results right now isn't good enough," McIlroy said in Akron when asked about his stop-start season. "I'm expected to win, I expect more of myself also."

It remains to be seen if he will have close pal Harry Diamond on the bag again in The Northern Trust at Glen Oaks Club, though the pair appeared happy at Quail Hollow.

"He's made over $50,000, so he's doing alright", McIlroy joked when asked how Diamond had done on the bag so far.

McIlroy has been forced to miss six events this season after picking up a stress fracture of the ribs in January.

As a result, he has fallen from second to fourth in the world rankings behind Johnson, Matsuyama and Spieth.

If the Official World Rankings were calculated on this season's results alone, McIlroy would be 23rd having missed three cuts and claimed just one top-three finish from his 13 starts.

Graeme McDowell, meanwhile, won't be playing in the FedEx Cup play-offs after missing the cut at the Wyndham Championship.

The Ulsterman shot a two-under-par 68 in his second round to finish on one under, but it wasn't enough to stay the weekend.

Only the top 125 players go through to the play-offs and McDowell, who sits 131st, needed to improve on that this weekend.

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