Though clearly disappointed with his first winless season since 2008, Rory McIlroy remained upbeat when he ended his 2017 schedule with a pretty insipid, level-par 72 at St Andrew's on Sunday to finish among the stranglers in 63rd place in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
The 28-year-old Northern Irishman came away from the event with a disappointing final-round 4-under total and all of 20 shots behind the winner, Tyrrell Hatton who fired a closing 6-under 66 to finish two strokes clear of the field with a 24-under 264 total and become the first man to ever successfully defend the Dunhill Links title.
McIlroy, a four-time major winner and currently the World No 6, has been suffering from a lingering rib injury that has hampered and frustrated him all season and some time ago, he decided that after the Dunhill Links Championship he would take a three-month break during which time he planned to fully recover from his injury and recapture his old winning form and confidence.
He will start his campaign to recover his A game by undergoing a series of tests to see if he is allergic to any foods.
"My last round of 2017 summed-up all of 2017 with not much happening either good or bad and I was sort of stuck in neutral," he told reporters on Sunday.
"Yeah, it hasn't been the year I wanted on the golf course. I started the year with grand ambitions and trying to add to my major tally and trying to win golf tournaments, and trying to get back to near the top of the world rankings.
"I wasn't able to do that, but I feel that even though I haven't won and the results haven't been what I wanted, I can still salvage something from the rest of the year even though I am not playing.
"I want to give myself the opportunity now to put a lot of foundations in place going forward and that is what I will concentrate (on) from now to the end of the year," he said.
"There are a lot of areas of my game that need sharpening up, like my wedge play and putting. These are two main areas I need to get better at.
"My iron play is coming on and I saw some good signs last week at Close House (where he finished second in the British Masters and while I didn't play all that well this week it was nice to feel like I was in the hunt at some stage at the end of my season.
"I will not start hitting balls to the end of November, so the next weeks is about rehab and being in the gym and getting my body right so that I will be ready to go into practising so that I can start 2018 strongly."
McIlroy plans to get back into competitive golf again in mid-January, most probably on the PGA Tour's 'West Coast Swing'.
He has already confirmed that he'll play in next year's Pebble Beach National Pro-Am starting on February 8.
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