It may prove a blessing in disguise, but Rory McIlroy’s miserable 2017 season could already be over.
After completing the US PGA Championship at Quail Hollow on Sunday night, the Northern Irishman revealed that because of an ongoing rib complaint “you may not see me until next year”. The 28-year-old actually made the shock revelation after his best round of the week. A three-under 68 was his lowest score of the tournament by four shots as he finally showed some of the Quail Hollow form which has won him two titles at the Charlotte course.
But while it was a promising denouement, it could hardly mask a highly disappointing US PGA, which ensured his third majorless campaign in succession. And his admission afterwards only added to the general sense of despondency regarding the state of the four-time major winner’s game.
“Right now I can feel my left rhomboid going into spasm,” McIlroy said, referring to the muscle on the back. “It’s sort of the way it has been the last few weeks. I have upped my practice coming into these two events because I wanted to feel like I was in a good place with my game.
“But, yeah, right now it’s a tough one because I go out there and play and shoot decent scores, but when I come off … the inside of my left arm goes numb. I have got this next week off to assess what I need to go forward. I don’t know what I’m going to do.
“You might not see me until next year. You might see me in a couple of weeks’ time. It really depends.”
McIlroy was due on Sunday night to fly to Belfast, where he will meet up with his fitness advisor, Steve McGregor. Together they will decide on the wisest approach to the injury, which is connected to the stress fracture of the rib that he suffered in the build-up to his first event in January.
McIlroy has yet to win in 2017 and, if he were to bow out until January, it would mean his first calendar year without lifting a title in eight campaigns – since he was a teenager.
He is due to play in the Northern Trust Open next week in Boston, the first of the four FedEx Cup play-offs. Last year, McIlroy won the concluding tournament in the five-week series, the Tour Championship, and finished on top of the FedEx standings. McIlroy took home $11.2 million (£8.6m) that Sunday, the biggest single payday of his career.