Rory McIlroy announces he has heart damage after contracting infection

Rory McIlroy has told a British newspaper that a viral infection he contracted in 2016 has left him with heart damage.

In an interview with The Telegraph published Friday, the four-time major winner said the infection came a year-and-a-half ago in China, and that it left him with "a bit of scar tissue."

"I suffered a really bad viral infection in China 18 months ago and they told me that's the reason that I have this thickening of my left ventricle and there's a bit of scar tissue," McIlroy said. "For now, I just need to stay on top of it and have to stay fit. Hey, I was planning on doing that anyway."

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Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy watches his shot from the 15th tee during a practice round for the 2013 PGA Championship golf tournament at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York August 7, 2013. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT GOLF)
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy holds aloft the trophy after winning the Australian Open golf tournament at Royal Sydney Golf Club December 1, 2013. McIlroy buried his 2013 title drought in the most dramatic fashion at the Australian Open on Sunday and said he thought a largely frustrating season might just make him a more complete player.REUTERS/Steve Christo (AUSTRALIA - Tags: SPORT GOLF)
HOYLAKE, ENGLAND - JULY 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland lines up on the 5th green during the third round of The 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on July 19, 2014 in Hoylake, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
HOYLAKE, ENGLAND - JULY 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks down the 6th hole during the third round of The 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on July 19, 2014 in Hoylake, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
HOYLAKE, ENGLAND - JULY 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks accross the tee on the first hole during the third round of The 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on July 19, 2014 in Hoylake, England. (Photo by David Cannon/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)
HOYLAKE, ENGLAND - JULY 19: Jordan Spieth of the United States walks with an umbrella during the third round of The 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on July 19, 2014 in Hoylake, England. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
HOYLAKE, ENGLAND - JULY 19: Sergio Garcia of Spain reacts on the 7th hole during the third round of The 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on July 19, 2014 in Hoylake, England. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy (L) of Northern Ireland and Rickie Fowler of the U.S. stand on the forth green during the second round of the WGC-HSBC Champions golf tournament in Shanghai, China, November 6, 2015. REUTERS/Aly Song
Sep 20, 2015; Lake Forest, IL, USA; PGA golfer Rory McIlroy walks off the 18th green moments after his final round of 2015 BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images *** Local Caption *** 2015-09-20T234539Z_1938160936_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_PGA-BMW-CHAMPIONSHIP-FINAL-ROUND.JPG
Oct 2, 2016; Chaska, MN, USA; Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the 14th tee during the single matches in 41st Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images *** Local Caption *** 2016-10-02T192206Z_1194135088_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_PGA-RYDER-CUP.JPG
Oct 2, 2016; Chaska, MN, USA; Patrick Reed of the United States celebrates winning this match against Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland during the single matches in 41st Ryder Cup Hazeltine National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images *** Local Caption *** 2016-10-02T204047Z_2077220899_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_PGA-RYDER-CUP.JPG
Oct 1, 2016; Chaska, MN, USA; Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts to making a birdie on the tenth hole during the morning foursome matches in the 41st Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Rory McIlroy celebrates with the FedEx Cup trophy and the Tour Championship trophy after playing the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Golf - The 146th Open Championship - Royal Birkdale - Southport, Britain - July 20, 2017 Northern Ireland� Rory McIlroy stands on the 18th green during the first round REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Golf - European Tour - Alfred Dunhill Links Championship - St Andrews, Britain - October 5, 2017 Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy during the first round Action Images via Reuters/Craig Brough
Golf - European Tour - Alfred Dunhill Links Championship - St Andrews, Britain - October 5, 2017 Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, Gerry McIlroy, Branden Grace and Johann Rupert pose for a photo after finishing the first round Action Images via Reuters/Craig Brough
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The news comes less than a week before McIlroy takes his first steps toward trying to put a forgetful 2017 season behind him when he tees off at the Abu Dhabi Championship, his first tournament in four months.

Battling a rib injury for much of 2017, McIlroy finished the season winless, and finally shut it down because of the injury after the BMW Championship in mid-September.

The 28-year-old told The Telegraph an echocardiogram every six months and annual MRI scan will now be part of his health routine because of the scar tissue.

For now, though, he is focused on getting back to a more familiar position on leaderboards.

"It's nice to be world No. 1, sure, and I will get back there, but it's all about winning tournaments," he said. "And I will give myself the best chances this season."

--Field Level Media

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