After contemplating shutting things down for the balance of 2017, Rory McIlroy is in the field this week at The Northern Trust. Now it seems he plans to stick around in an effort to defend his FedExCup title.
Speaking to reporters at a media event Tuesday, McIlroy detailed his plans to play in all four playoff events – two of which he won last year – despite a rib injury that has nagged him all season and twice led him to take time off.
“I’m not 100 percent,” McIlroy said, “but I’m at a percent where I feel like I can compete.”
After a T-22 finish at the PGA Championship, McIlroy lamented his inability to shake the injury and offered up the notion that he might skip the postseason on both the PGA Tour and European Tour in an effort to get healthy for 2018, when he will renew his quest for the final leg of the career Grand Slam.
FedExCup standings entering the playoffs
“I have a good bit of time to get healthy and address a few things going forward,” McIlroy said at Quail Hollow. “As I said, the next big thing is April and that’s really what my focus will be on from now until then.”
Fast-forward two weeks, and after consulting with his trainers in Northern Ireland McIlroy has decided to play through East Lake, should he qualify (he enters the playoffs 44th in the standings), and has also expressed a commitment to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October. His schedule after that remains up in the air, but McIlroy told ESPN that he hopes to still salvage some sort of offseason during which he can fully heal.
“You don’t get this opportunity to take a couple of months off and really work on what you need to work on in your game, work on your fitness. A real, proper offseason like every other sport has basically,” McIlroy said. “So I’m excited for that. If that means I play through the FedExCup Playoffs and I maybe play one more event back in Europe and shut it down for the rest of the year, I’m happy to do that because that’s an exciting prospect for me, to be able to turn up to 2018 and be ready to go.”
McIlroy also told reporters that friend Harry Diamond, who has caddied for him since McIlroy split with longtime looper J.P. Fitzgerald last month, will continue at least through the playoffs. McIlroy had initially expressed a plan to have Diamond caddie in Akron and Charlotte before starting a search for a long-term solution.