Rory McIlroy has heart damage from viral infection

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"But I've got a bit of an irregularity with my heart that I have to keep on top of", the world's No. 11 golfer told The Telegraph.

McIlroy, 28, was plagued by rib and back issues in 2017, which led him to shut down his season after the BMW Championship in September.

And McIlroy, who failed to win a tournament last season for just the second time in his professional career, revealed the rib problem that hampered his year was not the cause for concern.

That doesn't sound great, obviously, but it also doesn't sound like it will affect his swing like the rib injury did past year.

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As far as the heart condition, McIlroy said he will have to undergo an echocardiogram every six months and an MRI annually. "I needed the reset that I've just had".

McIlroy said in an interview with The Telegraph that he has a thickening of the left ventricle.

"The rib's fine, no problems whatsoever-I had an MRI scan on my thoracic spine and all was OK", McIlroy said. "Hey, I was planning on doing that anyway".

McIlroy will tee-up next Thursday in the UAE capital without a victory in 2017 and not having tasted success since capturing the PGA Tour's season-ending 2016 Tour Championship and the week prior the Hazeltine Ryder Cup. "I don't care about the world rankings".

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"I touched upon a recent finding from a routine health and wellness check.

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".

McIlroy will face stiff competition at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship from a field which includes world No 1 Dustin Johnson, Race to Dubai victor - and defending Abu Dhabi champion - Tommy Fleetwood, former British Open champion Henrik Stenson, and Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose.

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