A healthier Rory McIlroy begins busy stretch at Horizon Irish Open
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Back injury is better, still not 100 percent with Ryder Cup approaching
Written by Cameron Morfit @CMorfitPGATOUR
Rory McIlroy will not become the first to win the FedExCup and the DP World Tour’s Race to Dubai in consecutive seasons. Not this year, anyway. Some combination of his tender back and Viktor Hovland saw to that, but there’s still plenty to play for.
At The K Club for this week’s Horizon Irish Open, McIlroy spoke to the media Wednesday about his remaining goals, the upcoming Ryder Cup and the status of his lower back, which he injured while at home prior to flying to Atlanta for the TOUR Championship.
“It's okay,” McIlroy said. “I would say it's at 90 percent, 95 percent. It's not 100 percent better. I just happened to 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 got back from the TOUR Championship and then just started to do some rehab exercises for it. Went to see the physio a couple times.
“I hit balls once on Saturday before we left,” he continued, “and we flew, and we spent a couple days in London before we came here. … I'm a bit limited in what I've done but I sort of needed to rest it and take care of that as the priority.”
Although McIlroy was wincing on the driving range as he began the FedExCup-deciding TOUR Championship two weeks ago, he rallied to shoot 70-67-71-65 and finish fourth. His closing 65, especially, was a fitting way to close out a season in which he won twice, at THE CJ CUP in South Carolina and The Genesis Scottish Open. He racked up 13 top-10 finishes.
Leaders in driving from the 2022-23 FedExCup Season
Now the world No. 2 and Race to Dubai leader enters a busy stretch that will take him from Ireland to Rome – the European Ryder Cup team will take an early peak at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club – and then straight to Wentworth for the BMW PGA Championship.
He’s not worried about his back being 100 percent for the Ryder Cup, Sept. 29-Oct. 1.
“I'm sensible when I need to be,” McIlroy said.
Even before he hurt his back, he said, it was so hot for the FedExCup Playoffs that he didn’t practice other than to hit a few balls to warm up before his rounds. Now that he’s nearly completely healthy again, he will look to refine parts of his game for Marco Simone.
For now, he added, he’s trying to remember The K Club, where he won the Irish Open in 2016.
“A lot's happened in the last seven years,” McIlroy said, “so I actually struggled to remember quite a few holes when I played this morning, but it's also started to come back.”
The tournament, which he watched as a boy, has special meaning to him. It’s also the only tournament his mother, Rosie, ever seemed to prioritize.
“For as long as I can remember since I was a child, the only tournament my mum ever wanted to see was the Irish Open,” he said. “So for her to be there and for me to win it” – McIlroy came from behind to beat Russell Knox – “it means a lot to her obviously and a lot to us as a family.”
Cameron Morfit is a Staff Writer for the PGA TOUR. He has covered rodeo, arm-wrestling, and snowmobile hill climb in addition to a lot of golf. Follow Cameron Morfit on Twitter.