World number one Dustin Johnson expects Rory McIlroy to return to his best after struggling throughout an injury-interrupted 2017 season.
McIlroy was hampered by a rib problem this year and failed to enjoy so much as a single tournament success.
The Northern Irishman, who has slipped to sixth in the rankings, ended his campaign prematurely after the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship earlier this month to aid his recovery and ensure he is in peak condition to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.
And Johnson, speaking at the launch of the new Hublot timepiece in Shanghai, expects the four-time major winner to pose a serious threat.
"I think he will be back to his best this year," the American told Omnisport, referring to the 2017-18 season.
"He struggled with injuries, which is tough, so I know what he is going through.
"I got injured at the Masters this year and it lingered for a long time.
"So I think Rory is just fine and he'll be back playing well this year."
Reigning Open champion Jordan Spieth and PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas are second and third respectively in the standings and have designs on dislodging Johnson from top spot, but the big-hitter from South Carolina knows his young countrymen are not the only threats to his reign.
"There is a lot of really good players on tour," he said.
"Right now, Justin and Jordan are my two biggest competitors… But there are a lot of guys that are my competitors every single week.
"I'm going to have to keep playing very hard and keep playing very well."
21. Februar 2018
|Woods eager to experience Masters ´rush´|
|Vazquez and Asensio important to Madrid, says Zidane|
|Shakhtar Donetsk 2 Roma 1: Fred stunner seals first-leg comeback|
|Sevilla 0 Manchester United 0: De Gea ensures Mourinho´s men stay level|
|Klaasen and Duminy half-centuries set up T20 decider|
|Herrera injury gives dropped Pogba chance for reprieve|
|Tindall urges England to ´hunt´ vulnerable Scotland|
|Firmino insists he did not abuse Holgate|
|Leganes 1 Real Madrid 3: Casemiro inspires comeback for Zidane´s men|
|Milan have everything to lose – Gattuso worried about complacency|
|United a big team in defeat - Mourinho aims dig at City|
|Firmino escapes punishment after Holgate allegation|
|Mourinho benches Pogba for Sevilla clash|
|Cavendish withdraws after Abu Dhabi crash|
|Rugby greats put on show in French Alps snow|
|Gremio refute claims of €40m Arthur agreement with Barcelona|
|Messi will sign another Barcelona contract, predicts Bartomeu|
|UEFA rejects PSG appeal over Rabiot´s Real Madrid booking|
|Hardaker sacked by Tigers after failed drugs test|
|James to miss ´a few days´ of Bayern training with calf injury|
|Bellew not feeling Haye love|
|Nantes not stopping Ranieri if Italy come calling|
|Milan owner Li slams ´fake news´ over financial woes|
|Italy make three changes for France encounter|
|Wenger still gunning for top four spot with Arsenal|
|AFC Champions League Review: Kanazaki braces inspires Kashima|
|Gloucester centre Scott to re-join Edinburgh|
|Ospina to get Wembley nod as Wenger waits on Ramsey|
|Pogba not struggling at United, claims Deschamps|
|No police action against Gloucester coach Ackermann or son after nightclub incident|
|Australia proved a point with tri-series dominance, says Warner|
|Escape Messi´s shadow? Change sport! - Henry´s advice to Neymar|
|Scotland unchanged for crucial Calcutta Cup clash|
|Horsing around: Muller takes tips from equine companion|
|Lynn set for further assessment on dislocated shoulder|
|Ronaldo jets off for a break as Madrid head to Leganes|
|Bastareaud back in one of five France changes|
|Mistake to let Kroos leave Bayern for Madrid - Sammer|
|Short´s fifty and Agar´s spin seal deserved Australian tri-series win|
|Spalletti tips Ancelotti for Italy job|
|I can´t wait for retirement - Federer|
|Mendy on course for World Cup, says Deschamps|
|Man Utd on dismal knockout run, Roma have Shakhtar curse - Champions League in Opta numbers|
|Azpilicueta hoping for greater fortune at Camp Nou|
|Out of nothing he can score goals – Heynckes hails Muller|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Giovinco inspires Toronto, Tigres held|
|Steelers LB Shazier says he´s ´best linebacker ever´|
|Ranieri: I´ll quit Nantes if offered Italy job|
|Thiem keeps title defence on track, Monfils saves match point in Rio|
|Barcelona are great even without Neymar – Willian|
|Del Potro, Raonic progress at Delray Beach|
|Dolphins place franchise tag on Landry|
|Colts QB Luck ´extremely optimistic´ about shoulder rehab|
|Conte wants to see out Chelsea contract but has bags packed|
|A´s respond to Gruden´s belittling of Oakland|
|Yankees acquire Drury in three-team deal with Diamondbacks, Rays|
|Messi goal will give Barcelona more space at Camp Nou – Suarez|
|Serena Williams: I almost died|
|Conte defends ´incredible´ Christensen after Barcelona error|
|Bayern taking nothing for granted after 5-0 demolition – Heynckes|
20. Februar 2018
|Valverde: Barcelona away goal not definitive for progression|
|Muller & Robben bemoan poor first half despite Bayern rout|
|Ivashka sets up Wawrinka Marseille meeting|
|Chelsea close to a perfect game against Barcelona - Conte|
|Defending for 90 minutes at Barcelona a ´suicide mission´ - Fabregas|
|Championship Review: Villa miss chance to move into promotion places|
|Messi ends his Chelsea hoodoo|
|Texans release all-time leading tackler Brian Cushing|
|Chelsea 1 Barcelona 1: Messi breaks Blues hoodoo to leave tie in the balance|
|Bayern Munich 5 Besiktas 0: Two-goal Muller inspires emphatic win after Vida red|