Rory McIlroy says the back injury that ruined his chances of winning the Tour Championship won’t be an issue with a busy month ahead that includes two DP World Tour events, a bachelor party and, of course, the Ryder Cup in Rome.
Speaking at this week’s Irish Open at the K Club, site of the Northern Irishman’s 2016 victory in the event, McIlroy conceded balky back has not fully healed since the FedEx Cup finale in Atlanta last month.
“I would say it’s at 90 per cent, 95 per cent; it’s not 100 per cent better,” the four-time major winner said. “I just have take care of it a little bit, but it’s not preventing me from doing anything I want to do. Just being a little mindful, I guess.”
At East Lake Golf Club two weeks ago, McIlroy hit just 20 balls pre-tournament due to a spasm on the right side of his lower back. Clearly in pain during the PGA Tour’s 2022-23 season finale, the World No. 2 struggled at times but managed to scratch out a solo fourth.
Following more than a week’s worth of rest, McIlroy arrived at the K Club feeling more than up for his first Irish Open appearance since 2021. “I’ve had much worse [injuries]. I had much worse back issues when I was 21, so this is fine,” McIlroy said. “This is a bit of tightness, a bit of a muscle spasm.”
McIlroy said that he had previous been sidelined with a herniated disc that was “a lot more worrying than this is.” He continued: “I’ve got really good people around me that know what to do. It’s fine. It’s totally fine. I maybe don’t heal quite as fast as I used to, but it’s all good.”
Between this week’s event and next week’s BMW PGA Championship, McIlroy will join his European teammates for a reconnaissance mission at Marco Simone, site of the Ryder Cup, next Monday before returning to Wentworth to compete in the DP World Tour’s flagship event. After that, one week off before a seventh appearance for Europe at the Ryder Cup.
“It will be nice over these next couple of weeks and obviously the week leading into Rome to sort of feel like I’ve spent some time refining a few things in my game and working on some stuff,” he said, although not offering much insight into exactly what it is he’s working on. “I’m excited to spend the next few weeks over here and do that.”
As if his September wasn’t busy enough, there will also be a trip to the Greek island of Mykonos for a friend’s bachelor party early in the week prior to the Ryder Cup. With only four days between arriving back in London from Greece and heading to Rome, the 34-year-old joked he would be shrewd on the trip.
“I’m sensible when I need to be,” McIlroy said. “[It’s only] 48 hours [in Greece]; a nice little trip, and probably needed as well.”
Added Europe captain Luke Donald, who is also in the field for the Irish Open: “It’s not like Rory is 22 or 21; he understands,” Donald said with a smile. “There’s nothing wrong in going out and have some fun with your friends. But I think he’s got wise enough shoulders to know that he won’t go crazy, so no concerns there.”