Rory McIlroy said Thursday that a stiff back may have played a factor in his first round 1-over 73 in the opening round of the 2017 Players Championship.
On the 14th hole, it appeared McIlroy was about to lose the round when a pulled tee shot landed in the water hazard lining the left side of the par 4. It took an impressive up-and-down from the right greenside bunker to salvage double bogey.
However, he made birdies on the par-5 16th and the 18th to cap off the round to sit only six shots behind first-round co-leaders William McGirt and Mackenzie Hughes.
After the round, McIlroy admitted he tweaked his back in preparation for his return from a January injury suffered in the BMW South African Open.
"My back has got a little bit stiff again, I guess just from obviously building it up and playing through and then not doing anything for three weeks and then coming back last weekend and hitting balls for four or five hours a day," McIlroy said. "Just aggravated that joint in my back again, the thing that sort of happened at the start of the season."
The four-time major winner said he realizes he's somewhat limited this week and will have to work his way into contention with what he has before a little more time off prior to his U.S. Open lead-in and prep.
"I think this week it's just about trying to manage that and get through the week and try to play with what I have," he said," and then next week try to get that better and try to recover and try to play a good stretch of golf from here through the summer and obviously focus on the majors."