Golf Talk Live - Lorie Kane Transcript Segment 1

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 10, 1999, 4:00 pm
Golf Talk Live
May 10, 1999 - Lorie Kane

TEASE
CANADA'S LORIE KANE IS A NORTHERN STAR BURNING HOT AND WITH A CONSTANT TWINKLE IN HER EYE. SHE'S CANADA'S ANSWER TO NANCY LOPEZ. SHE'S A ROLE MODEL, ONE WHO NEVER FORGETS WHERE HOME IS OR HOW TO PUT UP HER FEET WHEN SHE GETS THERE.
MEET LORIE KANE NOW ON GOLF TALK LIVE.

NO ONE EVER SAID THAT GOLF IS FAIR. AND NO ONE HAS SUGGESTED THAT IT WOULD BE MORE FUN IF IT WERE FAIR.

PART OF THE GAME'S CHARM IS ITS ELUSIVENESS. BUT LORIE KANE WOULD LIKE THE WINNING OF HER FIRST LPGA EVENT TO BE A LITTLE LESS OF A SLIPPERY AFFAIR, PARTICULARLY, WHEN SHE KNOWS THAT ONCE THE FIRST ONE IS TUCKED SAFELY AWAY, SHE MAY NEED A NEW TROPHY ROOM TO HOUSE THE EVIDENCE OF THE WINS THAT WILL QUICKLY FOLLOW.

LORIE KANE ISN'T SO SURE SHE'S A HUGE FAN OF THE MAN WHO SUGGESTED THAT 'ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT.'

BEN HOGAN WAS A PRO FOR THE HEALTHIEST PART OF A DECADE BEFORE HE WON HIS FIRST TOUR EVENT. TOM WATSON HAD TO LEARN TO CONTROL HIS TEMPO AND IMPATIENCE ON SUNDAY AFTERNOONS BEFORE HE BECAME HIS ERA'S BEST PLAYER. THERE WAS A TIME NOT LONG PAST WHEN DAVID DUVAL WAS SIMPLY THE BEST PLAYER TO HAVE NEVER WON A TOUR EVENT LET ALONE THE BEST NOT TO WIN A MAJOR.

LORIE KANE IS FROM CHARLOTTETOWN, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND IN CANADA. AND IT SEEMS THAT ALL 40 THOUSAND CITIZENS OF HER HOME TOWN WISH FOR HER EVERYTHING THAT SHE DREAMS OF FOR HERSELF.

SHE WAS ONLY 4 OR 5 WHEN HER FATHER, JACK, WAS NAMED HEAD PROFESSIONAL AT BRUDENELL RIVER RESORT. AND WITH 18 HOLES JUST OUTSIDE HER FRONT DOOR, SHE WAS HOOKED ON THE BEAUTY OF THE GOLF COURSE, AND THE DEMANDS OF THE GREAT GAME. FOLLOWING A FICKLE PERIOD OF UNCERTAINTY ABOUT HER LOVE FOR THE GAME, SHE BEGAN A SINCERE AND PERMANENT RELATIONSHIP WITH THE GAME,
A RELATIONSHIP BASED ON LOVE. AS A WORLD CLASS AMATEUR, LORIE SUCCESSFULLY REPRESENTED HER ISLAND AND HER FAMILY WHEREVER GOLF WAS PLAYED.

NOW, SHE'S ONE OF THE BEST PROFESSIONALS IN THE WORLD. AND SHE'S WINNING . WINNING THE BATTLE AGAINST COMPLACENCY, WINNING THE BATTLE OF PATIENCE ON THE GOLF COURSE, WINNING FANS AND FRIENDS FOR GOLF AND THE LPGA TOUR. AND SOON HER GROWING COLLECTION OF SECOND PLACE FINISHES WILL BE BALANCED BY A PROPORTIONATE NUMBER OF FIRST PLACE FINISHES.

AND YET, SHE HAS PERSPECTIVE. SHE APPRECIATES EACH NEW OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY. AND SHE WORKS WITH ENTHUSIASM, ENERGY AND ETHIC TO ACHIEVE THE GOALS SO CLOSE TO HER GRASP.

AND SHE DOES IT WITH A SPECIAL SMILE THAT LIGHTS UP THE FAIRWAYS AND THE FACES OF EVERY YOUNG FAN EVERY TIME SHE PLAYS.

PETER KESSLER
WELCOME TO GOLF TALK LIVE. I'M PETER KESSLER. I'M DELIGHTED TO INTRODUCE YOU TO THE PRINCESS OF PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, CANADA, LORIE KANE. SO NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE.

LORIE KANE
THANKS FOR HAVING ME, PETER.

PETER KESSLER
I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU NEVER HIT A BAD SHOT. YOU NEVER MAKE A BAD DECISION OR A MISTAKE OF ANY KIND, THAT . YOU LEAVE ALL OF THOSE THINGS TO YOUR ALTER EGO, JUDITH.

LORIE KANE
THAT'S RIGHT.

PETER KESSLER
TELL ME ABOUT THAT.

LORIE KANE
WELL, MY NAME IS JUDITH LORIE KANE. UM, I'M NAMED AFTER MY AUNT JUDY. AND, THIS ALL HAPPENED UH A FEW YEARS BACK AT THE DU MAURIER CLASSIC IN EDMONTON.

WE WERE IN THE MIDDLE OF A . A TORRENTIAL RAIN DELAY. AND JIM NELFORD WAS ASKED TO BRING A COUPLE OF CANADIANS OUT ONTO THE 18TH FAIRWAY, WHICH WAS A POND, TO DO SOME INTERVIEWS.

AND, I HAD PLAYED 7 HOLES AND NOT VERY WELL. AND, HE HAD ASKED ME HOW I FELT ABOUT COMING OFF THE GOLF COURSE.

AND . AND I SAID, 'WELL I'M VERY PLEASED THAT WE HAD A CHANCE TO GET OFF THE GOLF COURSE. I NEEDED TO GET JUDITH SOME LUNCH SO SHE WOULD GO LAY DOWN SOMEWHERE AND GO TO SLEEP.'

AND, THAT'S WHERE IT STARTED. AND IT'S . IT'S KIND OF JUST A . A FUN THING FOR ME. I MEAN, I'M ENJOYING GOLF AND BEING PART OF THE LPGA TOUR. AND . UM, PLAYING PROFESSIONAL GOLF IS . IS REALLY EXCITING AND I TRY NOT TO PUT TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON MYSELF AND EXPECT TOO MUCH OF MYSELF.

SO WHEN THINGS DON'T GO WELL, I TEND TO BLAME IT ON SOMEBODY ELSE OTHER THAN ME.

PETER KESSLER
I UNDERSTAND THAT AFTER YOU WATCH GOLF TALK LIVE ON MONDAY NIGHTS, YOU WATCH ALLY MCBEAL, A SHOW ON ANOTHER NETWORK. AND ALLY'S PSYCHIATRIST SAID TO HER,

'TO GET OVER THE ROUGH SPOTS OF YOUR DAY, THINK OF A SONG THAT YOU LOVE AND LET IT PLAY INSIDE YOUR HEAD AS YOUR THEME SONG.' I UNDERSTAND YOU NOW HAVE A THEME SONG.

LORIE KANE
I CERTAINLY DO.

PETER KESSLER
AND WHAT WOULD THAT BE?

LORIE KANE
IT'S EARTH, WIND AND FIRE'S 'SEPTEMBER'.

DO YOU WANT ME TO SING IT?

PETER KESSLER
COULD YOU JUST GIVE US A LITTLE SNATCH OF IT, PLEASE?

LORIE KANE
(SINGING) DO YOU REMEMBER . THE 21ST NIGHT OF SEPTEMBER .

THERE YOU GO. (CHUCKLE)

PETER KESSLER
SO WHEN WE SEE YOU WALKING DOWN THE FAIRWAY AND SHAKING LIKE THAT, WE KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON INSIDE.

LORIE KANE
YEAH, UM, I'M GONNA TELL YOU THOUGH, I LISTEN A LOT LATELY TO CHER'S NEW UH CD AND . AND 'BELIEVE IN LIFE AFTER LOVE' IS . IS A NEW TUNE THAT WE'RE SINGING OUT ON TOUR ACTUALLY.

I SPENT SOME TIME YESTERDAY WHEN WE WERE IN THE MIDDLE OF A RAIN DELAY AGAIN WITH UH NANCY LOPEZ, A VERY GOOD FRIEND OF MINE, SINGING IT IN THE PARKING LOT.

SO, IT'S UH . YOU KNOW, SEPTEMBER'S BEEN A SONG THAT I'VE REALLY LOVED A LOT. AND UM . BUT, YOU KNOW, ANY . ANY SONG THAT HAS LITTLE BEAT IS . IS SOMETHING I'M ALWAYS SINGING.

PETER KESSLER
ISN'T IT AMAZING ABOUT NANCY THAT SIMULTANEOUSLY SHE CAN BE LARGER THAN LIFE, A HUGE STAR, BUT ALSO INCREDIBLY LIFE-LIKE AND REAL AT THE SAME TIME.

LORIE KANE
A UNBELIEVABLE PERSON. UM, YOU KNOW, I . I MET NANCY IN '96 AT THE FIRST MEETING OF . OF THE LPGA WHERE THE ROOKIES WERE INTRODUCED. AND, WHAT IMPRESSED ME THE MOST ABOUT BOTH SHE AND AMY ALCOTT AT THE END OF THE MEETING,

THEY CAME OVER TO US AS ROOKIES AND . AND INTRODUCED THEMSELVES, UH, WELCOMED US TO THE TOUR, ASKED IF WE HAD ANYTHING THAT WE WANTED, QUESTIONS ANSWERED,

TO COME TO THEM. UM, AMY NOTED, YOU KNOW, IF YOU'RE EVER SIGNING WITH AN AGENT, MAKE SURE YOU COME TALK TO ME FIRST. AND UM .

BUT NANCY HAS UH .HAS OPENED HER ARMS TO ME AND . AND HAS DONE SOME GREAT THINGS IN HELPING ME JUST MANAGE MYSELF. AND . AND I PLAY A LOT OF PRACTICE ROUNDS WITH HER.

I'VE LEARNED A LOT FROM HER. UM, SHE HAS PUT THE LPGA TOUR ON THE MAP. AND . AND I'M JUST HONORED TO HAVE HER AS A FRIEND.

PETER KESSLER
WHEN YOU LOST THE PLAYOFF FOR THE CHICK-FIL-A RECENTLY TO RACHEL HETHERINGTON,

LORIE KANE
UH-HUH.

PETER KESSLER
NANCY ALSO TOOK THAT TIME TO COME COMFORT YOU ON SOME LEVEL. TELL US ABOUT THAT.

LORIE KANE
SHE DID. UM, MY FRIENDS WERE ON THE 18TH GREEN, AS A LOT OF PLAYERS WHO WERE WATCHING THE PLAYOFF, AND UH, NANCY HARVEY, CHRIS GREATREX, WHO ARE CANADIAN FRIENDS OF MINE, AND LIZ EARLEY WERE THERE.

BUT, NANCY LOPEZ WAS THERE AS WELL. AND I HAD MADE A GREAT 5-WOOD SHOT INTO THE GREEN. I THOUGHT IT WAS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. AND IT GOT SOME BAD LUCK AND WENT UP THE SLOPE.

UH, I HAD A DIFFICULT CHIP SHOT. IN FACT, I DON'T KNOW IF I'VE EVER PLAYED THAT TYPE OF SHOT EVER. I KNOW I'VE PRACTICED IT A FEW TIMES BUT NEVER UNDER THE GUN.

AND I TURNED AND HAPPENED TO SEE NANCY STANDING TO MY LEFT. AND SHE'S GIVING ME THE 'TAKE DEEP BREATHS' AND . (LAUGH)

I WAS LAUGHING. I WAS SAYING, 'ALL RIGHT LOPEZ, I CAN HANDLE IT.' SO I PITCHED DOWN AND . AND PUT IT 4 FEET FROM THE HOLE ,WHICH I THOUGHT WAS A GREAT SHOT, AND ENDED UP MISSING THE PUTT AS EVERYBODY KNOWS. UM .

TURNED AND SHE WAS THERE OPEN ARMS TO TELL ME THAT I HAD A LOT OF WINS LEFT IN MY HEART AND UH, THAT MY TIME WAS COMING AND NOT . NOT TO WORRY. AND THAT FELT UH .

IT WAS . IT WAS COMFORTING. AND I THINK I . THE DRIVE FROM ATLANTA TO MYRTLE BEACH WAS A LITTLE EASIER KNOWING THAT YOU HAVE PEOPLE LIKE NANCY LOPEZ IN YOUR CORNER.

PETER KESSLER
LOT'S OF PEOPLE WOULD SAY IN CANADA THAT YOU ARE CANADA'S NANCY LOPEZ ON THE CANADIAN TOUR, THAT YOU'RE ITS BEST PLAYER AND ONE OF ITS GREAT PEOPLE ON AND OFF THE GOLF COURSE.

HOW HARD IS IT TO GO FROM BEING THE BEST PLAYER THERE TO WORKING YOUR WAY UP TO BEING ONE OF THE BEST PLAYERS ON THIS TOUR.

LORIE KANE
WELL, YOU KNOW, I . I GUESS . IN PUTTING IT IN PERSPECTIVE, I DON'T SEE MYSELF REALLY ANY DIFFERENT IN PLAYING THE GAME AT HOME IN CANADA. THE DU MAURIER SERIES WAS PROBABLY THE BOOST THAT HELPED MY PROFESSIONAL CAREER GET GOING. UM, .

WHEN YOU SPEND TIME WITH JOCELYN BOURASSA WHO IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR THE DU MAURIER CLASSIC AND HAS PUT THE SERIES PROGRAM TOGETHER, UM, WE LEARNED A LOT THERE.

AND, I THINK I TOOK THE SKILLS I LEARNED FROM DU MAURIER AND THE SERIES WITH ME ONTO THE TOUR. UM, ALSO BEING A LITTLE BIT OLDER, I THINK, HAS HELPED IN GETTING ME . YOU KNOW, I WASN'T 21.

I HAD LIVED MY LIFE AS A . AS A YOUNG PERSON LEARNING TO GROW, EXPERIENCING LIFE. AND SO WHEN I CAME OUT HERE ON TOUR, I WAS READY TO BE HERE. I WAS COMMITTED TO PUTTING ALL THE TIME IN, THAT I NEEDED TO, TO PLAYING THE GAME.

AND, I THINK, UM . YOU KNOW, I HAVE TO GIVE CREDIT TO MY FAMILY. UH, ESPECIALLY DANNY SHARP, WHO CADDIES FOR ME, MY COACH ANNE CHOUINARD,

WHO . WHO HELPED MANAGE ME AND LET ME DO WHAT I NEEDED TO DO AND THAT'S TO PLAY GOLF.

PETER KESSLER
IT SEEMS LIKE YOUR FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS, THE ONES BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR SISTERS AND THE ONES THAT YOU AND YOUR SISTERS HAVE WITH YOUR PARENTS, ARE ALMOST TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.

WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THE HARMONY THAT MAKES TEAM OR FAMILY KANE AS

TOGETHER AS IT IS?

LORIE KANE
(LAUGH)

WELL, LIKE ANY FAMILY, I MEAN, WE'RE NOT PERFECT. UM, BUT WE DO HAVE 6 DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES THAT TEND TO UH .(SOFT KNOCK-KNOCK SOUND) BANG HEADS EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE. BUT WE DO GET OVER THE ROUGH STUFF AND WE ARE A FAMILY.

AND WE WORK VERY HARD AT STAYING A FAMILY. AND I WOULDN'T BE HERE WITHOUT THEM. UM, YOU KNOW, MY OTHER 3 SISTERS HAVE SACRIFICED THINGS FOR ME TO BE HERE.

UM, MOM AND DAD HAVE . HAVE MADE EVERYTHING AVAILABLE TO ME THAT I NEEDED TO BE . TO GET ME HERE. UH, I PLAYED EVERY SPORT IN THE WORLD GOING - GROWING UP AS . AS MY -- REST OF MY SISTERS DID.

AND, MOM AND DAD JUST GAVE US THE OPPORTUNITY. AND I THINK EVEN NOW, UH HAVING THEM HERE THIS WEEK WITH ME AND . AND HOPEFULLY LEARNING TO BE MORE UH, IN CONTROL

AND . AND LOVING HAVING FAMILY AROUND, UH, IS SOMETHING THAT I'M LEARNING TO DO. UM, WHEN I PLAY A GOLF TOURNAMENT, I LIKE TO JUST BE ME AND NOT REALLY HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT ANYBODY ELSE.

BUT AS THEY'LL TELL YOU, I WORRY ABOUT THEM AND WHERE THEY ARE AND MAKING SURE THAT THEY'RE OKAY. AND SOMETIMES THAT TAKES ME AWAY FROM THE GAME.

PETER KESSLER
YOU'RE JUST WORRIED THAT THEY'RE NOT GONNA BEHAVE THEMSELVES IN THE STUDIO TONIGHT.

LORIE KANE
(LAUGH) .

YES.

PETER KESSLER
SO THAT YOU CAN HAVE A CHANCE TO TELL THEM THAT AGAIN, WE'LL TAKE A LITTLE BREAK. AND WE'LL RETURN WITH LORIE KANE AND SOME OF YOUR CALLS AFTER THIS.

(BREAK)

NEXT SEGMENT
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The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

Yeah, you heard that right.

“I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

“I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

Here's two more just for good measure.

Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.

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Spieth selected by peers to run for PAC chairman

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 6:43 pm

Jordan Spieth may still be relatively young, but he has gained the confidence of some of the PGA Tour's most seasoned voices.

Spieth is one of two players selected by the current player directors of the Tour's Policy Board to run for Chairman of the Player Advisory Council (PAC). Spieth will face Billy Hurley III in an election that will end Feb. 13, with the leading vote-getter replacing Davis Love III next year on the Policy Board for a three-year term through 2021.

Last year's PAC chairman, Johnson Wagner, replaces Jason Bohn as a player director on the Policy Board beginning this year and running through 2020. Other existing player directors include Charley Hoffman (2017-19), Kevin Streelman (2017-19) and Love (2016-18).

The 16-member PAC advises and consults with the Policy Board and Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on "issues affecting the Tour."

In addition to Spieth and Hurley, other PAC members for 2018 include Daniel Berger, Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, Chesson Hadley, James Hahn, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Geoff Ogilvy, Sam Saunders, Chris Stroud, Justin Thomas, Kyle Thompson and Cameron Tringale.

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Florida golfers encounter python-wrapped alligator

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 6:29 pm

Alligator sightings are pretty common on Southern golf courses - see here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Also, here. (RIP, Timmy the Turtle.)

But here's one that deserves distinction.

Those images come from the Golf Club at Fiddler's Creek, down in Naples - in case you're booking a vacation to Southwest Florida or just looking for a Hot Deal this week. Hit 'em straight, folks.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.