Rory McIlroy continues to surprise. Having previously said he would only play the Alfred Dunhill Links before taking six weeks off, he has confirmed he will join tournament host Lee Westwood and Masters champion Sergio Garcia in the British Masters supported by Sky Sports at Close House next week.
The four-time Major Champion has added the European Tour tournament to his schedule and will tee it up at the Northumberland venue before playing with his father in Scotland a week later.
Speaking on the No Laying Up podcast, McIlroy confirmed that a sponsor's invitation had been kept for him as he did not enter before the closing date.
McIlroy told the European Tour: “I'm looking forward to playing my first British Masters for a while. I kind of had it in the back of my mind that if I didn't make the Tour Championship then there was a chance to tee it up at Close House, so I have decided to do that before finishing my season off the next week at the Dunhill Links.
“I'm pleased to be able to support Lee Westwood next week as well. I know what it's like to be a tournament host so I know how much the British Masters means to Lee this year. It looks like he has done a brilliant job along with Sky Sports and Close House in putting the event together and hopefully the crowds will come support us.
“Teeing it up next week gives me one more chance to end 2017 on a high as well. If I can sign off the year with a win or two in Newcastle and then St Andrews I would take so many positives into my six-week recovery period when I am going to reset mentally and physically and concentrate on getting myself in the right shape for next year.”
On No Laying Up, McIlroy blamed his rib injury for his failure to win a major or a PGA Tour event this year.
"I definitely think the injury is the biggest [reason]. If someone was to say, why didn't things go the way you wanted them to this year, I would say because of the injury.
"You swing away from pain and I started to swing the club way on the inside on the downswing and my path was so far from in to out because anything going left at impact was putting pressure on that rib and on that joint and it would hurt.
"So I played for four months without hitting a shot left to right and you can't do that. So it made me play a certain way and I am proud of the fact that I used to a be very much a draw-biased player and the last few years I have been able to hit it both ways.
"And that has been a big part of my succcess. I can get to back right pins now because I can fade it back.
"If you look at my statistics, my wedge play has not been very good, my iron play has not been very good. But even over the last couple of weeks I feel like I have made some little tweaks in my swing that have made it feel a little bit better. But it is so nice I have this time now in the off-season to work on all this stuff and make sure it hopefully never happens again."
Tournament host Westwood is looking forward to welcoming his Ryder Cup teammate to Close House as part of the impressive line-up for the tournament, which takes place from September 28-October 1, preceded by the Hero Pro-Am on Wednesday September 27.
“It is great news that Rory will be coming to Close House next week for the British Masters,” said the Englishman. “The first time I played with Rory was actually in the British Masters with Darren (Clarke) at the Forest of Arden, so it’s great to have him back playing in the tournament.
“We already have really strong field, including Sergio Garcia and Danny Willett, the last two Masters Champions, and I’m delighted Rory is able be part of it too.
“Everything is shaping up nicely for the tournament and Rory is another great player for the fans to come and see in action at Close House.”