Rory McIlroy’s quest for an elusive first Masters title and a grand slam of majors will continue in 2018, and it is clear that he means business.
After a year in which he has slipped to 10th in the Official World Golf Ranking after failing to lift a trophy anywhere in the world, he is desperate to get back to the pinnacle of the sport to challenge the US dominance.
Despite players like Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson taking most of the plaudits at present, many pundits feel that, when on top of his game, the Northern Irishman is still top dog and capable of blowing any opponent out of the water.
It was clear that he was never really fully fit throughout the year after suffering a back injury in January in the South African Open, and it was no surprise that he shut down his season with a few weeks still to go.
Things started brightly, with four top-10s in his first five outings, but a player of McIlroy’s ability craves majors, and a missed cut at the US Open will have hurt.
That followed on from a share of seventh at the Masters and preceded a tied-fourth effort at the Open Championship, and so the signs were there that he was returning to somewhere near top form.
Problems on the greens held him back, however, and there is no doubt that he threw away many opportunities over the course of the year with an inability to convert excellent iron shots.
Hopes were high that the Holywood-born ace would return to Quail Hollow and add another major to his CV at the US PGA Championship but, with the course vastly different to when he won his first event on the PGA Tour back in 2010, he could only manage a share of 22nd.
So what might the next 12 months bring in the life of the 28-year-old?
Injuries held him back last season, and European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn will be praying that the four-time major winner can return to his best and lead Europe to glory in Paris next September.
McIlroy’s best season as a professional was in 2014 when he claimed two majors and a WGC event in the space of a few weeks, and that followed on from a winless 2013.
Having failed to land silverware this year, it may well be that he sparks back into life when kicking off his season on the Desert Swing section of the European Tour in late January.
He is sure to be among the favourites to win either the Abu Dhabi Championship or Dubai Desert Classic (check out these bookie reviews for all the best prices, offers and bonuses available on this season’s golf).
Tiger Woods has put the wheels in motion to make his latest comeback, and McIlroy will want to follow suit and make sure that the man who dominated the sport before the latest crop of stars emerged does not take all the headlines.