Rory McIlroy has decided his health is good enough for him to start the FedEx Cup playoffs next week in New York.
McIlroy had said after he finished at the PGA Championship that he could feel a back muscle spasm in recent weeks as he practiced more to get ready for the final major of the year. He said before leaving Quail Hollow he could return in a few weeks or not until next year.
His manager said in a text message that McIlroy plans to play The Northern Trust, which starts next Thursday at Glen Oaks on Long Island. Harry Diamond, McIlroy’s best friend from Northern Ireland, will remain as his caddie through the playoffs.
McIlroy won two playoff events last year, including the Tour Championship, to capture the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus.
That was his last victory.
He suffered a hairline rib fracture in South Africa, his first tournament of 2017, and missed seven weeks to let it heal. But after getting married in April, he says he practiced too much too quickly to get ready for The Players Championship, and he wound up taking a five-week break to let it heal.
McIlroy plans to be at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday to celebrate his FedEx Cup title and commemorate a $1 million donation in his name to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. It includes him hitting golf balls from a suite to targets on the field.
The four-time major champion tied for fourth at the British Open, tied for fifth at the World Golf Championship at Bridgestone and then tied for 22nd at the PGA. He revealed after his final round that he has felt spasms the previous two weeks as he increased his practice.
"It’s a tough one because I go there and play and shoot decent scores," he said at Quail Hollow. "But when I come off the course, I feel my left rhomboid going into spasm. (The) inside of my left arm goes numb."
He was headed home to Northern Ireland to meet with his trainer and decide when or if he should play.
It was not clear how many playoff events McIlroy would play. He was No. 41 in the FedEx Cup, and the defending champion in two weeks at the TPC Boston. The top 30 after three events make it to the Tour Championship.
Asked at Quail Hollow why he would consider playing, McIlroy said he already has missed a lot of time this year with the lingering injury. The Northern Trust would be his 12th start on the PGA Tour this season dating to last October. He has played only 13 times worldwide in 2017.
He had said the "next big thing" on his radar was in April at the Masters, the only major keeping him from the career Grand Slam.
"If I’m capable of playing, I feel like why shouldn’t you?" he said after the PGA. "But then at the same time, if you’re not capable of playing at your best, why should you play? We’ll see what happens. Assess my options in the next few days and see where we go from there."