CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Before leaving the Quail Hollow Club grounds after a frustrating week at the PGA Championship, Rory McIlroy dropped a bit of a bomb: He’s considering shutting it down for the remainder of the season to rest his ailing injury.
McIlroy, who last won a major championship in 2014, went as far as to say: “You might not see me until next year. You might see me in a couple of weeks time. I don’t know what I’m going to do. It really depends.’’
The next significant tournament McIlroy is scheduled to play is in two weeks at the Northern Trust, the first FedExCup event, which is being played at Glen Oaks on Long Island.
Asked “why’’ he would play in the FedExCup events, McIlroy’s answer was rather damning.
“I don’t know,’’ he said, pausing and adding, “Yeah, I don’t know. I feel like a sense of not duty, but I’ve missed a lot of time already. If I’m capable of playing, I feel like, ‘Why shouldn’t you?’ But then at the same time, if you are not capable of playing at your best, why should you play?
“It’s a Catch-22. We’ll see what happens. I’ll assess my options in the next few days and see where we go from there.’’
McIlroy, ranked No. 4 in the world, suffered a stress fracture of a rib in January while overdoing it in practice and took nearly two months off before playing again. He aggravated it after getting married following the Masters and took more time off.
After indicating his game was ready to win again and insisting he was not putting added pressure on himself since he’s won twice at Quail Hollow and has won the PGA twice before, McIlroy never got going this week, finishing 1-over after shooting 68 on Sunday.
“Right now I can feel my left rhomboid going into spasm,’’ McIlroy said as he spoke to reporters after his round. “It’s sort of the way it has been the last few weeks. I have upped my practice coming into these two events, because I wanted to feel like I was in a good place in my game.
“But right now, it’s a tough one because I’ve go out there and play and shoot decent scores, but when I come off the course, I feel my left rhomboid going into spasm. The inside of my left arm goes numb. So I don’t know what to do. I have got this next week off to assess what I need to go forward.’’
McIlroy’s “Catch-22’’ is the fact he believes he can play in tournaments, but his practice time has to be limited.
“I feel like I’m capable and playing well enough to give myself a chance in it,’’ he said. “At the same time … April is a long way away. That’s the next big thing on my radar. The next big thing is April, and that’s really what my focus will be on from now until then.’’
McIlroy was referring to the Masters, which is the only major championship he hasn’t won, meaning a Masters win would complete the career Grand Slam for him.
Going a third consecutive year without adding to his four career majors is bothersome to McIlroy.
“It’s tough. … I want to get back into that winner’s circle,’’ he said. “You don’t want to be teeing off at 9:45 on the final rounds of a major on a Sunday. That is not where you want to be.’’
He said the pain he’s feeling now is “not as bad’’ as it was in May, when he said it “really sort of flared up on me’’ at the Players Championship.
“It’s there. I can feel it,’’ he said. “I can play 18 holes, I warm it up and it’s OK. But once I get done, having to go through the whole routine of getting it ready to go again the next day … you shouldn’t have to do that. If I was injury-free, that wouldn’t happen.
McIlroy said he was flying back to Northern Island on Sunday night, and he would consult his medical people there.
“Just sort of have a chat with him about it and see what we need to do going forward,’’ he said. “But the more I play, it’s just not allowing that time to heal 100 percent. An injury like this, it’s eight full weeks of rest before you start to rehab it and then you go again. I felt like we took as much time as we needed to at the start of the year. That was basically seven or eight weeks. I got back and playing it felt OK through the Masters.
“I switched it off for a couple of weeks because I was getting married, going on honeymoon. Then once I started practicing again, I didn’t build up the volume gradually. I went from zero to hitting balls from three or four hours a day. That aggravated it a little bit.
“I just haven’t allowed it the time to fully heal. I wanted to play the season. I feel like I’m capable of playing well and winning and putting rounds together. If I want to challenge on a more consistent basis, but I need to get 100 percent healthy.’’