It’s an odd state of affairs in the world of golf when there is more interest in the state of Rory McIlroy’s back than his play. But so it is here at The Players with the world No. 2.
Medical bulletin one, issued on Friday after McIlroy’s 71, was that the Northern Irishman had tweaked his back the previous weekend when he says he overdid his practice and “ … was struggling with it a bit.” McIlroy said that he had booked an MRI scan in Belfast on Monday, when he returns to Northern Ireland for a couple of weeks, and he would “manage” it until then.
McIlroy revealed the discomfort was in the same part of his back that had caused him to withdraw from tournaments at the start of the year. “I said that if that injury was an 8 or 9 in terms of pain, soreness and stiffness, then this is around 4 or 5,” McIlroy said. Even so there was some nervousness on his part when he began his third round.
Medical bulletin two, issued after his third round, a 71, can reveal that McIlroy’s back is “ … the same, possibly easier than it was (on Friday).” McIlroy said that the previous night he had slept on his right side to try to rest the discomfort he felt in his back. “Erica (his wife) said to me, ‘What’s the matter? Is something wrong?’ And I replied, ‘No, no. I am just trying to get comfortable.’ ”
McIlroy’s score was hardly that of a badly injured man. On a windy day when Chez Reavie ran up a 9, Grayson Murray an 8, there were many 7s and even more 6s, a round of 1-under par was creditable. “This golf course is difficult,” McIlroy said. “It handcuffs you. I tried to overpower it the first two times I played here and that didn’t go too well.” He missed the cut in each of his first three years. “You have to play clever golf here and take advantage of the par-5s.”
“I’ve got full rotation and I am not having any trouble breathing,” he said. “So the signs are that this injury is not the same as the one I had in January. I am hoping it is nothing more than a strain or a small tear.”