The golf world was dealt an unexpected blow this week as Rory McIlroy announced he needed to withdraw from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
McIlroy has been diagnosed with a stress fracture in one of his ribs and will need to rest to allow it to heal. There is no timetable for his return.
McIlroy was anxious to get this season underway and had scheduled a few more tournaments than he usually plays. He announced his withdrawal in a statement.
“It’s bitterly disappointing to have to withdraw from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. I think everyone knows how much I love playing this tournament, which is one of the best on the European Tour thanks to the incredible support of HSBC and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council.
“To be forced to miss this week through injury is really quite annoying to be perfectly honest, but I am sure the tournament will be a huge success and I hope everyone involved has a great week.
“In situations like this you simply have to listen to the experts and the team I have consulted have all advised me to rest until my rib has fully recovered.”
Here is the definition of a rib stress fracture from SportsMD.com:
A stress fracture is an area in the bone where it has become weakened and microscopic cracks have gradually formed because the bone is repeatedly loaded and stressed. This is different from a regular “traumatic” bone fracture or break in which one event causes the bone to crack all at once. The cracks in stress fractures are often so small that they can’t be seen on regular x-rays, but the area where the bone has built up some new bone (“callus”) as it tries to heal is sometimes visible. A stress fracture can progress to become a complete fracture if it is not allowed to heal with a period of rest. Stress fractures can occur in almost any bone. A stress fracture of the rib is rare, but can be seen in high-level athletes with significant demands of repetitive upper extremity activities, such as rowers or track and field athletes. Stress fractures in the legs and feet of runners are much more common due to the constant, repetitive impact forces with each stride.
And the recommendation is usually for rest for a period of four to six weeks and while that is a long time to be sidelined, Rory should make a full recovery.
He had planned on starting his PGA Tour season at the Genesis Open at Riviera on February 16th and then the Honda Classic the next week.
That would give him about four weeks to recover.
Losing Rory is a big blow to the game but the nature of this injury isn’t career or even season threatening. With time he’ll be back and probably a bit more motivated to get back to number one.