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McIlroy working out to protect his back, spine

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – Rory McIlroy’s added muscle is getting a lot of attention as he prepares to tee it up Thursday at the start of the Masters.

He’s on the cover of the newest Men’s Health magazine, becoming the first golfer to grace that publication’s cover. Accompanying a story about his workout regimen are photos of McIlroy shirtless, showing his muscular frame. McIlroy is reported to have turned 20 pounds of fat into muscle over the last few years with his workouts.

In McIlroy’s pretournament news conference Tuesday, he was asked why he has become so devoted to weightlifting and fitness.

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“It's about longevity, injury prevention, trying to prolong my career as much as I can,” McIlroy said. “That's the reason I got into working out, because I had a bad back and there were reasons for that, because I didn't go in the gym, and I didn't have the core strength, and I didn't have the stability that I need. I would hit 10 drivers on the range, and I would feel it. It enables me to practice more and it enables me to play better, to feel more stable over the ball.”

According to, McIlroy learned he has a degenerative condition in his spine and has worked to strengthen the area around it.

Still, some big names in the game have cautioned McIlroy not to overdo it.

“You can almost hurt yourself in the gym if you get too bulky,” Butch Harmon told an Irish radio show last month.

Nick Faldo, Paul Azinger and Curtis Strange are all on record saying the same kind of thing.

“I just hope he’s not changing his body to his own detriment,” Azinger said.