"Why is Rory McIlroy still playing?" PGA Tour pro questions WD at Tour Champs?!

PGA Tour winner questions Rory McIlroy's participation in the Tour Championship after watching him play through the pain barrier. 

"Why is Rory McIlroy still playing?" PGA Tour pro questions WD at Tour Champs?!
"Why is Rory McIlroy still playing?" PGA Tour pro questions WD at Tour…

PGA Tour pro Michael Kim questioned why three-time FedEx Cup record holder Rory McIlroy was playing through the pain barrier in the first round of the Tour Championship. 

McIlroy revealed he sustained a lower back injury foam rolling in his home gym prior to the start of the tournament. 

It showed in his performance, particularly on the front nine in the first round, however, McIlroy rallied on the back nine to card a respectable level-par 70 in the circumstances.

That leaves him at 7-under par and just three strokes off the pace, which is exactly how he started the tournament. 

Before teeing off, McIlroy revealed his biggest pet peeve with PGA Tour fans! 

Kim, sat on the couch watching the FedEx Cup finale at East Lake, tweeted: "Why is Rory still playing?" 

Sky Sports' Jamie Weir seemingly had the perfect response to Kim's tweet given McIlroy played through the pain barrier to keep himself in the hunt for a fourth FedEx Cup. 

"Because he's a competitor," tweeted Weir. 

Golf Digest's Luke Kerr Dineen then tweeted how McIlroy's driver apex had tailed off considerably as a result of his back injury: 

"When it comes to injuries, one big red flag to watch for is a sudden, consistent drop in drive apex. Injured players often hit their drives lower, for speed and technique reasons. Rory's average driver apex is usually ~130 ft. His first three drives today: 67ft, 97ft, 81ft." 

Kim, who won the 2018 John Deere Classic by a record eight strokes, then gave his take on matters: 

"For one it’s a drop in club head speed. But I think the main reason for this particular example is that since it’s a back injury, he’s going to have the least amount of side bend he can have since side bend is one of the biggest stressors to a back during a golf swing. Less side bend= lower attack angle and less loft into the ball."

McIlroy told a pool of reporters how he sustained his injury after his first round.

It turns out, his back went into spasm after he tried to stretch out after feeling a little tight. 

McIlroy explained:

"So I think when I play a lot of golf, especially the end of the season, I always have to manage my right side. My right side always gets pretty tight, my rib cage, intercostals, lats, like, all the way down, right hip.
"On Tuesday morning I felt a little tight, and I went into my gym at home, and I just sort of foam-rolled and stretched. I went to grab something and my whole right side just completely seized up, spasm.
"So I spent two hours with the physio at home, flew up here, felt a little better, some treatment, then Wednesday morning still my right side was feeling better, and then went into the gym just to do some movements and stuff.
"I was at the bottom of a squat, a body-weight squat, and my whole lower back spasmed, seized up. I couldn't move. I honestly couldn't address the ball this time yesterday. So to get to where I am today is good."

The World No.2 added: 

"So, yeah, I mean, I hung in there and I just felt like if I could get through today, it's better than it was yesterday, hopefully tomorrow's better than it was today, and just sort of try to keep progressing. So the fact that I'm only going to be -- whatever it's going to be, like, three or four off the lead, I'm over the moon about."

McIlroy said the thought of withdrawing was not on his mind.

"I was always going to tee off," he said. 

Ryder Cup hopefuls Keegan Bradley and Collin Morikawa share the lead with European Ryder Cup star and last week's BMW Championship winner Viktor Hovland on 10-under par.

Morikawa whizzed round in a spectacular 61, his lowest ever round on the PGA Tour. 

The winner of the Tour Championship walks away with the FedEx Cup and $18m bonus.

World No.1 Scottie Scheffler fell backwards to 9-under par after a 71. 

The round included his first triple-bogey since the 2022 AT&T Byron Nelson

McIlroy's round of level par leaves him at 7-under par and just three strokes off the pace heading into the second round. 

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