Rory McIlroy was delighted to stay in contention at the Tour Championship on Thursday after suffering an immobilising back injury days earlier.
Reports emerged moments before the PGA Tour season finale that McIlroy could pull out after sustaining a problem with his lower back.
The world No.2, who started three shots behind leader Scottie Scheffler, decided to compete but looked visibly uncomfortable on the driving range.
Footage emerged of the Northern Irishman wincing in pain during his warm-up at East Lake and many fans expressed concern on Twitter, given the Ryder Cup is just one month away.
Despite some difficult moments early in his round, McIlroy battled to a respectable level-par 70, staying within three shots of the lead at a tournament which offers £14million to the winner.
Speaking afterwards, the 32-year-old downplayed fears of a serious injury and explained how the problem occurred.
“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,” McIlroy said.
“So, yeah, 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.”
McIlroy added: “So I was always going to tee off. It was just a matter of how I felt on the course.
“And it got progressively a little tighter as I went, but it will hopefully get loosened up here and just another 20, or 18 hours of recovery and go again.”
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