Rory McIlroy continued to battle injury as he shot a three-under par 67 to sit in solo seventh on ten-under, six shots off the pace at the Tour Championship
Defending FedExCup champion Rory McIlroy came into the $18m season finale battling a muscular, lower-back injury and after two rounds at East Lake Golf Club, he sits six strokes behind 36-hole co-leaders Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa.
McIlroy told the media that he’s battling with several limitations due to the back injury he picked up at home on Monday.
“I can’t hit the ball left-to-right and — yeah, I can’t swing my irons the way I want to,” McIlroy said after his three-under 67 on Friday. “I can’t turn my right side through the ball. So from the top of the swing, I’m just sort of throwing my arms at it and it’s a lot of face rotation and I can only really hit it one way with the irons.
“I can’t hit the driver the way I usually do. Like, teeing it up. I’m teeing it down and just hitting a sort of flat little runner down there. So, yeah, look, a little limited to the shots that I can hit, but I’m getting by,” McIlroy said.
McIlroy’s preparation at East Lake included treatment for a muscle spasm in his back and hitting roughly just 20 balls on the range – his first-time hitting balls since he was in Chicago for the BMW Championship.
“I was at the bottom of a squat, a body-weight squat, and my whole lower back spasmed, seized up,” McIlroy said Thursday. “I couldn’t move. I honestly couldn’t address the ball this time yesterday. So to get to where I am today is good.”
Collin Morikawa followed his 61 with another clean card for a six-under 64 on Friday in the Tour Championship, giving him the lowest 36-hole score at East Lake and a share of the lead with Viktor Hovland going into the weekend at the FedExCup finale.
Morikawa told the media he’s happy with his position but understands he must continue going low to challenge for the title.
“If I was going to tell myself I was going to be 16-under through two days, with my total score or whatever you want to call it, I would have taken that. Look, I think with wind down and this course, if you keep it in front of yourself it’s obviously gettable. There’s going to be low scores.
“There’s going to continue to be low scores this weekend. Greens are starting to firm up. You’re still going to see guys firing at pins. You have a few short holes that you have to take advantage of. The par-5s are very gettable.
“It’s not going to end at 16-under. There’s going to be a lot more low scores, a lot more birdies made. I’m going to have to continue that heading into the next two days,” he said.
Hovland and Morikawa lead by two over Scottie Scheffler who produced another ball striking clinic in a round of 65, bouncing back from a triple bogey on 15 on day one, Scheffler is back in contention.
“I was six shots better,” Scheffler said. “I didn’t hit it in the water on 15, and I had three less three-putts, so there you go.”
Keegan Bradley, who is doing what he can to make those six wild-card picks even tougher for Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson, birdied three of his last five holes for a 67 and was at 13-under.
Masters champion Jon Rahm (65) and Xander Schauffele (64) are four shots behind.
McIlroy tees off on moving day at 2.27pm local time, 7.27pm Irish time.