Rory ready to take 2017 off af­ter new flop

Daily Mail - - Golf — Us Pga Championship - DEREK LAWRENSON Golf Cor­re­spon­dent re­ports from Quail Hol­low, North Carolina

R ory McIl­roy is con­sid­er­ing tak­ing the rest of the year off to get fully fit fol­low­ing a dis­ap­point­ing sea­son in the ma­jors where a nag­ging rib in­jury meant he strug­gled to live up to his billing once more.

The so­lu­tion is the most rad­i­cal of sev­eral that are up for dis­cus­sion in Belfast this week as the North­ern Ir­ish­man talks it through with his trainer Steve McGre­gor and the rest of his team.

‘There’s a lot to be said for what roger Fed­erer did in ten­nis,’ said one of his in­ner cir­cle, re­fer­ring to the five months the Swiss leg­end took off to get fit be­fore com­ing back to win the Aus­tralian open in Jan­uary.

McIl­roy had barely signed for a fi­nal-round 68 in the 99th US PGA Cham­pi­onship at Quail Hol­low yes­ter­day when he could feel some fa­mil­iar dis­com­fort.

‘As I’m talk­ing to you I can feel my left rhom­boid (up­per back mus­cle) go­ing into spasm, and the in­side of my left arm go­ing numb,’ said the 28year- old. ‘I have upped my prac­tice com­ing into the last two events be­cause I wanted to feel in a good place about my game.

‘Sim­i­larly, I haven’t talked to any­one about it the last cou­ple of weeks be­cause I wanted my head where it needed to be to fo­cus on this event.

‘So right now, to be per­fectly hon­est, I don’t know what to do. you might not see me now un­til next year. you might see me in a fort­night at the FedEx Cup. What I do know is that if I want to chal­lenge on a con­sis­tent ba­sis, I need to get 100 per cent healthy.’

McIl­roy suf­fered the orig­i­nal in­jury at an in­ten­sive boot camp in Jan­uary as he pre­pared for the new cam­paign. He played on at his first event, the South African open, with his ribs strapped up.

He took the rec­om­mended eight weeks off but the in­jury flared up once more fol­low­ing his wed­ding in April, af­ter an­other hard prac­tice ses­sion.

‘I just feel in a catch-22 sit­u­a­tion right now,’ he said. ‘I feel I am ca­pa­ble of play­ing and feel a sense of duty to play be­cause I’ve missed a lot of time al­ready. But then, at the same time, if you are not ca­pa­ble of play­ing at your best, why should you play?

‘I just haven’t al­lowed it the time to fully heal. I wanted to play the sea­son. But it’s tough to strug­gle for an­other year in the ma­jors. I want to get back into that win­ner’s cir­cle. Tee­ing off on Sun­day in the fi­nal round at 9.45am is not where you want to be. So, from now un­til next April and the Masters, my fo­cus is to get healthy and ad­dress a few things.’

Speak­ing of a sense of duty, McIl­roy is sched­uled to com­pete in all four play- off events in his de­fence of the FedEx Cup, which be­gins in 10 days. There­after he was hop­ing to play in the Dun­hill links pro-am at St An­drews with his fa­ther, Gerry.

‘The trou­ble is, the more I play, it’s just not al­low­ing that time it needs to heal 100 per cent,’ added McIl­roy. As for the things to ad­dress, one will be a new cad­die to re­place JP Fitzger­ald, who was sacked two weeks ago. McIl­roy’s best friend Harry Di­a­mond has stood in for the last fort­night but that is surely a tem­po­rary thing.

‘I think he’s en­joyed it, he’s made 50 grand,’ said rory, giv­ing an in­di­ca­tion of how lu­cra­tive an ap­point­ment it will be.

There are also clearly is­sues with his wedge play and other parts of his game, but much of that will be cor­rected once he gets healthy. There is a men­tal as­pect that needs ad­dress­ing, though, for it is not just this year where McIl­roy hasn’t con­tended.

Come Sun­day af­ter­noon, he hasn’t been a fac­tor in any of the 11 ma­jors he has played since his last vic­tory three years ago.

Dur­ing that time he has played the open­ing rounds in a com­bined to­tal of 14 over par.

on the fi­nal day, loose and with only pride to play for, he has been an ag­gre­gate of 27 un­der. How does he play with that free­dom again in the first round, as he used to when win­ning ma­jors?

First things first, though. McIl­roy might feel he owes it to the re­spec­tive tours to keep play­ing but, much more than that, he owes it to him­self to let this in­jury fully heal.

As for Jor­dan Spi­eth, he signed for a 70 to fin­ish just in­side the top 30. Hardly where he wanted to be, but when he gets home to Dal­las today you can be sure the sight of the Claret Jug will quickly erase any dis­ap­point­ment.

GETTY IMAGES

Pain game: McIl­roy fin­ishes a dispir­it­ing US PGA

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