Exclusive interview: Rory McIlroy reveals secret heart drama after China virus scare

Rory McIlroy has had health problems and a four-month break from playing golf but still thinks he can be world No 1 again by the end of this year Credit: Getty Images

Even a heart irregularity will not derail Rory McIlroy from his 2018 objective. He has undergone the tests, “absolutely loved the down time” and has come out of this period of self-examination by declaring his mission to return to world No 1 by the end of the year.

After a near four-month break – the longest of his career – McIlroy is plainly itching to go and will resume in the Abu Dhabi Championship on Thursday.

Sitting down in a coffee bar on Friday beneath the tower of his Dubai residence, the 28-year-old projected the air of an athlete who had recovered his spark – as well his mojo.

Except, the health report he delivered was unexpected after the injured rib which plagued his winless season of 2017.

“The rib’s fine, no problems whatsoever – I had an MRI scan on my thoracic spine and all was OK,” McIlroy said, after returning from yet another sun-lit practice session. “But I’ve got a bit...

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