Rory McIlroy says his rib is fine, but an MRI revealed a viral infection has led to a heart problem.
"I suffered a really bad viral infection in China 18 months ago," McIlroy told James Corrigan of the Telegraph. "And they told me that's the reason that I have this thickening of my left ventricle and there's a bit of scar tissue. For now, I just need to stay on top of it and have to stay fit. Hey, I was planning on doing that anyway."
McIlroy missed a substantial amount of time last year due to a rib injury he suffered at the South African Open in January and fell to No. 11 in the world golf rankings by the end of the season. The Northern Irishman elected to put the clubs away for six weeks after the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October but is eager to begin his 2018 season.
"I needed the reset that I've just had," said McIlroy. "Let's just say that between now and when I signed off last year, I feel way more optimistic, focused, motivated, purposeful. I know exactly what I can do."
McIlroy went winless last year for the first time since 2008, but has a chance to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National in April, joining Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods as the only players to accomplish the feat.
"I won four majors from 2011 to 2014 and everyone was saying 'that's Tiger pace.' And I realize everyone knows I haven't won one in the last three years and that is a worry, yeah. I need to get back on that track and this year my goals are to add to my major tally and get back to world No. 1, winning more times than anyone else."
The 28-year-old begins a busy schedule next week at the Abu Dhabi Championship on the European Tour.