By all accounts, Rory McIlroy’s return has generated the kind of interest that accompanied Elvis’ ‘67 Comeback Special. Well, it has until that giddy anticipation is eclipsed by Tiger Woods’ own revival next week.

For the time being, though, the spotlight is well and truly on McIlroy as he unleashes himself back on to the frontline of competitive action in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship tomorrow.

It’s now 16 months since McIlroy last won an event. There have been mitigating circumstances, of course. His well-documented and niggling rib injury caused all manner of frustrations for the Northern Irishman in 2017 and he took himself away after October’s Dunhill Links Championship to embark on a four-month period of rehabilitation and preparation.

The discovery of an irregular heartbeat during a medical check-up led to many having palpitations but just about the only person not working themselves into a fankle was McIlroy himself. Despite the various concerns about his health and fitness, the 28-year knows that golfing success can serve many medicinal purposes.

“I’d love to win again,” McIlroy said ahead of a season in which he will once again be aiming for the career grand slam at April’s Masters. “I don’t think there is any better feeling than winning a golf tournament.

“I’ve practised and I’ve played, obviously not competitively in a proper tournament, but I’ve shot some really good scores over the last few weeks. That’s different from being out here with a card in your hand but from everything I’ve seen in practice, there is no reason to think it is not that far away.”

As the 2017 campaign meandered to a fairly uneventful conclusion, the extended time away from centre stage has done McIlroy the power of good.

“I was excited to be done last season and after three and a half months, I’m very happy to be back,” he added. “I felt like I needed the break, both physically and mentally. I’ve been out here for 10 years and it felt like a bit of a sabbatical.

“Mentally I wasn’t in a great place and that was because of where I was physically. But I feel prepared now,

I feel ready and I feel ready to challenge. I feel really good about where I’m at with my health. I’ve put all that behind me, which has been great.”

There were plenty of perks to enjoy during his time away. McIlroy and his wife hurtled through Italy in a 1950s Mercedes convertible while on holiday. Now, he’s looking to get motoring again on the course and re-affirm his status as one of golf’s classic marques.

McIlroy has slipped to No.11 on the world rankings but is embarking on a stretch of eight events in the lead up to the first men’s major of the year at Augusta as he looks to clamber back up the pecking order. Abu Dhabi is a happy hunting ground for him, with four seconds, two thirds and a fifth in his last eight starts.

“It’s a comfortable place to make a fresh start,” he said. “I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve to see where I am.

“It would be ideal if I were to win one of these next eight events before Augusta but if that doesn’t happen, hopefully I can take a lot of confidence from things that I’ve seen in my game.”