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Rory McIlroy plays down long term back concerns
February 16, 2010

Rory McIlroy’s back has been bothering him since his amateur days, but the 20-year-old believes that with proper maintenance it should not stop him from becoming a golfing force for the long haul.

The Northern Irish youngster saw a specialist last week after his back flared up during the Dubai Desert Classic, but was cleared to play this week’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

McIlroy, rated one of golf’s most exciting young prospects and already ranked eighth in the world less than three years after turning professional, said his back had been troubling him on and off since 2007.

“The summer before the (2007) Walker Cup it was really bad,” he told reporters on Monday.

“This is fine, compared with what it used (to be like). You know, it comes and goes. If I play a couple of weeks in a row it’s fine.

“Play three weeks and I can feel it a little bit, and the fourth week it starts to hurt.

“So I’m trying to manage my schedule so I’m not playing too much golf and not putting too much stress on it.”

McIlroy described the problem as a “stress change” in two facet joints in his lower back. The joints, he indicated, crunch together when he makes a full swing.

But he insisted he would be ready to play at his best in the $8.5 million event at Dove Mountain, where his first round opponent on Wednesday will be American Kevin Na.

“This was my first tournament in the States as a pro last year and I played pretty well,” added McIlroy, who won his first three matches before bowing out against eventual champion Geoff Ogilvy.

McIlroy will line up in a field boasting 64 of the world’s top 66 players, with Americans Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson the notable absentees.

Woods has taken an indefinite break from the game in the wake of revelations about his marital infidelities, while Mickelson said he would miss the event to take a family holiday.

The field also features Italy’s Edoardo and Francesco Molinari, the first brothers to contest a WGC event.

Francesco, ranked 46th in the world, will meet American Zach Johnson. Edoardo, who surpassed his brother for the first time at 45 in the latest rankings, will play British Open champion Stewart Cink.

“I don’t know if (Francesco’s) in the mood to joke,” said Edoardo.

The WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship starts on Wednesday.

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