Published: Sun, May 14, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Concern for McIlroy's back

Zac Blair had a nice second round going at The Players Championship until he fell victim to the notorious 17th and ended his hopes of making the halfway cut.

When asked about it after the second round, McIlroy said that he will be going for an MRI on Monday and may have to take some time off.

The Northern Irishman just did enough on Friday to reach level par but he is way down the leaderboard in a tie for 43rd.

"I'm going for a MRI scan on Monday just to make sure it's not serious and then I'll see what we do from there".

Speaking about a round containing two birdies and one bogey, the newly-married four-time major victor said: "Today it seemed like the golf course should be gettable but no-one really posted any low numbers".

He admits he can not hit many balls on the range and only managed nine practice holes before he played at the Masters last month.

Q. Did you get a good sleep at night with the back? But this time, he provided one of the funniest golfer-reporter exchanges of the year.

Pavon was one under par after nine holes when the first round was suspended and when play resumed at 8.30am yesterday, he made four birdies on the back nine to post a bogey-free 68.

Blair had opened with a four-over 76 at TPC Sawgrass, but he began to fix the damage with a birdie at the 11th - his second - and he added another at the long 16th to get within a shot of the projected cut line.

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McIlroy himself suffered a double in the first round but had no such disasters on Friday, signing a clean scorecard which included just two birdies and one bogey.

Four-times major champion McIlroy has been dogged by back issues for several years, but he is optimistic this latest flare-up is not serious.

The evidence is there to support McGinley's assessment, as well. Patience is certainly the name of the game.

One of the new clubs in his bag is a one-iron - something he made good use of on a course which demands accuracy.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia and world number one Dustin Johnson were alongside McIlroy on level par after rounds of 71 and 73 respectively.

The final member of the marquee three-ball - Justin Thomas - was at the same mark after matching McIlroy's 71.

Last year's Masters champion Danny Willett is also struggling with his back and could be ruled out of the BMW PGA Championship.

Willett, hampered by back problems throughout his career, struggled to an opening 79 and covered the back nine at Sawgrass in 40 before calling it a day.

He also made an early exit from his next event in the RBC Heritage, where he split with long-time caddie Jonathan Smart after the first round.

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