Rory McIlroy has declared himself fit for next week's US Open at Erin Hills after missing a succession of events due a rib injury. The Northern Irishman has endured a stop-start 2017 thanks to the long-term problem he initially suffered during the off-season while testing new equipment, after former sponsors Nike curtailed the manufacturing of clubs.
The 28-year-old was absent for the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and the Memorial Tournament last weekend to ensure he was fit for the second major championship of the year. McIlroy has been recuperating in Portugal and is on course to make his first competitive appearance since the Players Championship in mid-May.
"I am ready for Erin Hills and looking forward to playing there for the first time," McIlroy said, according to The Guardian. "The last few weeks have obviously been frustrating – I never like to miss events either on the PGA Tour or European Tour – but it was important I got back to a level of fitness where I felt like I could give myself the best possible chance at the US Open.
"As I have said many times before, majors will ultimately determine my golf career but I have had the rest of this busy season to consider as well. Every aspect of the facilities at Quinta do Lago has been first class. I can't thank the people there enough for the way they have looked after me. I have been able to work on fitness and golf without any distractions at all."
With Phil Mickelson destined to miss the tournament, which starts on 15 June, due to attending his daughter's high school graduation and Tiger Woods' exile from the sport showing so sign of ending, confirmation of McIlroy's appearance comes as a major boost to the tournament.
World number one Dustin Johnson will attempt to become the first player to retain the title since Curtis Strange in 1989. Having missed the cut at Memorial, Johnson has already begun attempts to win back-to-back titles by practising a week ahead of the tournament. The American took full advantage of the extra preparation time by travelling to the Midwest ahead of schedule and was impressed with the conditions. "Had a good couple of practice rounds at Erin Hills and really like the course," he wrote on Twitter. "Looking forward to defending next week."