Rory McIlroy: Will he make Erin Hills?

Rory McIlroy. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Rory McIlroy. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports /

Rory McIlroy’s rib injury from last January continues to hang like a dark cloud over his 2017 season.

Rory McIlroy has withdrawn from next week’s Memorial Tournament. McIlroy is still struggling with the lingering effects of that injury to his ribs that he sustained last January at the European Tour’s South Africa Open.

First it was Abu Dhabi, a victory he knew he needed to get the edge on Jason Day in the rankings race. But an MRI revealed something more than a strained upper back.

McIlroy had fractured his ribs and, following medical advice, he withdrew from the Abu Dhabi Championship, determined, he explained,

"not to jeopardize long-term goals for short-term gain"

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That was in late January.  McIlroy needed to step back from golf and rest. A hairline rib fracture, and that’s what was eventually diagnosed, can’t be fixed with surgery or a splint. McIlroy’s training program was making the problem worse.

McIlroy followed his doctor’s orders and rested, returning to competition in early March at the WGC-Mexico Championship and his T7 finish encouraged McIlroy fans. He followed with a T4 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and his fans were even more encouraged.  His WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play performance wasn’t anything to get excited about, but even McIlroy can’t be at the top of the leaderboard every week! His T7 at the Masters kept his fans fed although McIlroy wants more than a top 10 at Augusta National.

Then came THE PLAYERS and problems resurfaced.  McIlroy made the cut but it came with a price tag attached:

"I took three weeks off and then I went back at it again on Friday and instead of maybe gradually building it up again, I hit balls for four or five hours on Friday and did the same on Saturday. I felt a bit of stiffness on Sunday, hit a couple of drives that didn’t quite feel right. Maybe I should have just taken it a bit easier over the weekend, but I was excited to get back, excited to play again."

A new MRI after THE PLAYERS didn’t reveal any new injuries, but McIlroy decided to take a pass on the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship this week.

Maybe he was just playing it conservatively, or maybe there was medical news he chose not to reveal.

In either case, Rory McIlroy has now withdrawn from next week’s Memorial, a tournament he values for sentimental reasons and has missed only once in the past seven years.

Next: Interview with Erin Hills designer, Michael Hurdzan

What does this mean for McIlroy’s readiness to challenge at Erin Hills? It’s too early to speculate. His fans are holding their collective breath.