McIlroy returned to action in June at the U.S. Open but missed the cut. He tied for 17th at the Travelers Championship, then missed the cut in his next two starts before The Open Championship. At Royal Birkdale, he played well and tied for fourth.
At last week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, he tied for fifth and seemed to have building momentum coming into Quail Hollow, a course on which he’s won two TOUR events. But he opened with a pair of 1-over 72s on the redesigned layout and was never in the mix.
He said the pain he’s currently experiencing is not as bad as what he suffered in May. Once he warms up, he can play 18 holes with little to no issues, allowing him to compete like he did at Royal Birkdale or Firestone. But the spasms and numbness appear post-round, and that’s cause for concern.
“Once I get it done, having to go through the whole routine of getting it ready to go again the next day, you shouldn’t have to do that,” McIlroy said. “If I was injury-free, that wouldn’t happen.”
McIlroy won two Playoffs events last year, the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston and the TOUR Championship that clinched his first FedExCup title. No FedExCup champion has successfully defended.
If he’s healthy, he would like to defend his title. He entered this week ranked 43rd in FedExCup points and is projected to move up a couple of spots. Theoretically, he could sit out the first two Playoffs events and still be eligible to advance to the 70-man BMW field.
But he also said he may take an extended time off to make sure he’s healthy going into next year. McIlroy has not won a major since 2014.
“Everything is up in the air because I don’t know when I’m going to play next, where I’m going to play next,” he said. “I wish I had more to tell you guys. …
“If I’m capable of playing, I feel like why shouldn’t you. But then at the same time, if you are not capable of playing at your best, why should you play. It’s a Catch-22.”