Abu Dhabi - Rory McIlroy has added muscle to his magic as he aims to complete his climb to the top of the golfing world.
Opening his season in fine form with a five-under-par 67 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Thursday, the 22-year-old Ulsterman looked distinctly more muscular in the upper arms when he shed the white jacket he wore at the start of the round.
Asked how much time he had spent in the gym during his winter break, the world number three replied: "A good bit, actually.
"I put the clubs away straight after the Dubai World Championship (December 11) and took a few days off until I was feeling a bit better (from dengue fever)," he said.
"I've been working hard in the gym, which has been good. I really started working hard last year and I really got into it and really started to enjoy it.
"I feel like I've got a lot stronger and it's definitely helped my golf as well. Basically every day since the start of the year I've been in there."
The Ulsterman explained that the extra muscle meant that he was able to better control what is already regarded as one of the purest swings in world golf.
"I feel like my lower body has gotten a lot more stable and a lot more strong," he said.
McIlroy is playing the first two rounds in Abu Dhabi in the company of former world number one Tiger Woods, who changed golf forever when he arrived on the scene in the mid-1990s with his emphasis on fitness training.
Asked how he felt about the 15-year age difference between the two men, McIlroy repled: "I definitely feel older than 22, just because I've basically been travelling the world every year since I was 16.
"So you grow up quickly. It doesn't feel like I'm talking to someone that's a lot older than me out there."