McIlroy: Woods in 'good spirits' as he works toward return

The PGA Tour is in Mexico City this week for the latest World Golf Championship event, and while Tiger Woods’ back injury kept him from participating, Rory McIlroy insists the 14-time major winner is keeping a positive frame of mind.

“He was in good spirits,” McIlroy told Bob Harig of ESPN on Tuesday after having lunch with Woods in South Florida last week.

McIlroy added, “We had a great time, just the two of us. He’s working hard to try and get back, and with injuries it just takes time.”

The event in Mexico marks a return for McIlroy, who is back on Tour after a fractured rib kept him on the shelf for the past four tournaments.

Woods’ own return to the PGA Tour in January after a 17-month layoff was short-lived – he was forced to withdraw after one round of the Dubai Desert Classic due to back spasms.

Doctors advised the 41-year-old to remain in a “resting position” to speed up recovery, causing him to miss the past two tournaments. McIlroy offered an interesting suggestion for how his Nike teammate could return without placing too much stress on his back.

“Even if he plays 8-10 times a year, that’s a bonus for all of us,” the Northern Irishman said. “Just to have him involved, play the majors, play some of the other events he likes and that he feels he can compete at. Golf is obviously better with him involved, but there’s going to be a point where we are going to have to move on and golf is going to have to live without Tiger.”

Of course, McIlroy couldn’t get out of his press conference without someone asking about Woods’ availability for the Masters in early April.

“Possibly. The next few weeks will probably tell,” McIlroy said, according to Harig.

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