The precautionary MRI Rory McIlroy had done in Dubai on Monday returned some unfortunate results for the World No. 2. Complaining of tightness in his upper back and trouble breathing, during the BMW South African Open last week, the pain turned out to be emanating from a stress fracture to a rib.
According to a report from ClubCall.com, McIlroy blamed the discomfort on the extra time and strain he put on his body over the holidays testing equipment.
“The back was a little tender (Saturday) morning and I didn’t really get much sleep overnight,” McIlroy said following his third round. “I couldn’t get comfortable and I had to wake up in the middle of the night to take a couple of painkillers, but the physios did a good job on me this morning and strapped me up pretty well, and then gave me a couple of anti-inflammatories which helped.
“If it’s a muscular thing then it’s just fatigue. I have hit a lot of golf balls over the last four or five weeks, testing equipment, so I think that’s probably just the thing. I have been hitting a lot of drivers, and you put a lot of force on your body when you do that.
“Maybe I’ll take it easy over the next few days, and I think with better rest and more treatment I should be fine.”
When the MRI results came back two days later, the cause very well could have been the same, but the timetable for McIlroy’s return to competitive golf wasn’t as cut and dry. His first order of business was to withdraw from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, a decision he called “bitterly disappointing” in a statement as well as saying that he would follow his medical experts’ advice and wait until his rib has fully healed.
So, what does that mean for McIlroy’s immediate future less than 80 days away from the first major championship of the year? It casts immediate doubt on upcoming events he planned to play such as the Omega Dubai Desert Classic (Feb. 2-5), the Genesis Open (Feb. 16-19), the Honda Classic (Feb. 23-26), the WGC-Mexico Championship (March 2-5) and the WGC-Dell Match Play (March 22-26).
The timetable for his return is purely individual, but speaking with the Golf Channel on Monday, Dr. Ara Suppiah laid out a rehab stint that could take anywhere from four to eight weeks.