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McIlroy (71) makes weekend despite back issue

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Rory McIlroy rebounded on Friday with a 1-under 71 to assure himself a weekend tee time at The Players despite an ongoing back issue.

McIlroy said on Thursday after an opening 73 that he recently re-aggravated the rib injury that forced him to miss a few starts earlier this year.

“If that injury [earlier this year] was an eight or a nine in terms of pain and soreness and stiffness, this is around a four or five,” said McIlroy, who was tied for 51st when he completed his round.

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McIlroy said he has been managing the pain with treatment and athletic tape and that the warm temperatures this week have helped keep his back loose. The world No. 2 also said he plans to have a magnetic resonance imaging test on Monday in Belfast.

McIlroy explained that when he returned from the injury in March at the WGC-Mexico Championship he was able to play his way back into shape, but after taking the last few weeks off to get married and honeymoon he may have over-practiced to prepare for this week’s event.

“I went back at it again on Friday and instead of maybe gradually building it up again, I hit balls for four or five hours on Friday and did the same on Saturday,” he said. “I felt a bit of stiffness on Sunday, hit a couple of drives that didn't feel quite right. So I maybe should have just taken it a bit easier over the weekend, but I was excited to get back, excited to get ready to play again and so maybe just being a little over keen was a detriment.”