Rory McIlroy Golfer says long break a chance to focus on health

McIlroy said Wednesday on the eve of the Northern Trust -- the first of four tournaments in the US PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs.

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Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland is battling the after-effects of a broken rib suffered early in the season play

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland is battling the after-effects of a broken rib suffered early in the season

(GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP)
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Rory McIlroy is "excited" at the prospect of a three-month break to focus on his health and his game, even though it means he'll miss the European Tour's season finale.

"I'm excited for it," McIlroy said Wednesday on the eve of the Northern Trust -- the first of four tournaments in the US PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs.

"To have three months where I can focus on myself, my health, my game and just improvement –- I don't think I'm ever going to get a chance like this in my career again where I get this opportunity to take three months to re-evaluate things."

McIlroy continues to battle the after-effects of a broken rib suffered early in the season.

Although the rib has healed, he said a ligament where the rib attaches to his spine has "become quite lax" leading to inflammation in his back.

"It's something that I'm going to have to address," McIlroy said. "If I manage it over these next few weeks, I can't do any damage to it."

That fact helped him make up his mind to tackle the FedEx Cup playoffs. He had said after finishing 22nd in the PGA Championship this month that he might take off the rest of the season.

Instead he's hoping he can replicate his FedEx Cup performance of last season, when he came into the playoffs ranked 36th and without a US win in 2016 and went on to win the series.

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't think I had a chance. I'm here and I know I've done it before, and hopefully I can give myself a chance to do it again," he said.

Once the four PGA Tour playoff events are over, McIlroy said, he'll play the Dunhill Links Championship in October and step away until 2018.

That rules him out of three elite European Rolex Series events and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in November.

"I feel like it's a tremendous opportunity to improve as a golfer and with my health and with everything," he said. "I've already sat down with the team and we have a three-month plan going forward."

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