So Rory McIlroy Tweaked His Back… (Updated – Rib Injury)

rory-post-impactUpdate: If turns out that Rory McIlroy will be out for some time, as he has suffered a stress fracture in his ribs… that is some stress he’s putting on his upper torso!   /update

You may have heard about Rory McIlroy having tweaked his back during last week’s golf tournament in South Africa (the SA Open), but it’s not a lower back injury.

He reported it in his upper back and, since he’ll be having an MRI on the area today, I’m assuming it is soft-tissue (muscle) damage rather than a thoracic vertebra injury (because if that were true, he’d really be in some trouble), especially since he played through the weekend with it.

Here is the news from GolfDigest:

Despite an impressive 2017 debut at the South African Open — where he lost to Graeme Storm in a three-hole playoff — Rory McIlroy’s next appearance could be in doubt thanks to back pain. The four-time major winner tweaked his upper back Friday morning, pain significant enough that he almost pulled out of the event. McIlroy said he received treatment before and after each of the next three rounds.

McIlroy told reporters on Sunday that he’s scheduled to undergo an MRI scan Monday on his injured back.

I’m no doctor, obviously, nor do I play one on TV, but the major concern with modern golf swing injuries is in the lower back, so, just saying…

Now, what could have caused Rory to tweak his back in such a manner?  Well, you could take a look at this post-impact position of Rory’s:


And you wouldn’t have to be Kreskin to see that he’s putting a huge amount of stress on his upper back and neck area through impact – in the gifs. below are two swings from the weekend.

Watch how far that head drops on the transition from the top, and how it snaps back and down through impact…ouch…


I’ve talked about how the proper MCS stance (and the one employed by the greats of swing during golf’s classic swing era) is one of a relaxed upper spine area, correct?


Now, look at how stiff Rory is in the entire back area at address, compared to the virtual “slouching” of the greats in that area:


If I were standing behind him and saw that, my first thought would be, “Dude, you’re about to swing a 13oz golf club, you’re not preparing to deadlift a bus…”

Too much time in the gym, and just way too much tension in that stance (he looks as though he’s trying to strangle that club), and then you’re going to swing at the ball at 120+ mph… not a good combination.

Here’s another look at that drop from the top and the head snap through impact:


There’s a reason the greats of the classic era didn’t all throw their backs out while swinging – they stood and swung properly, for the most part, and any swing flaws were just that – flaws, and not mechanically unsound moves or stances like the one above.

Rory would be well-served in getting a little more natural leverage into his swing and to stop launching himself at the ball in this manner – he’s a long driver, sure, but at what cost?

Rory has actually regressed in his mechanics – remember when I first posted about Rory’s floating heel, about a year and a half ago, and how it may have saved him from further injuring his back, after he had suffered back issues shortly after turning pro?

See how much more relaxed he looked in the back and shoulders area back then?


And that heaving leap at the ball – that tells me he’s not getting enough lift in that leading heel – you see it come up just a bit at the top of the back swing, but you can see that left knee from behind, there’s no “Swinging Gate” there.

So, with no swinging gate to close, you have no natural leverage, and have to create it – Rory’s method leaves a little to be desired, here.  Unless, he’s trying to emulate his childhood hero, Tiger Woods

tiger 2015 gif

The first rule of hitting it long is, “Don’t hurt yourself doing it,” or you’re doing something wrong, for sure…

Want to learn more about the MCS Golf Swing Theory? Try one of DJ’s “Secrets of the MCS” video shorts available via download.

hogan pivot

Or you can download the very latest MCS Golf Swing video “MCS – Perfect Pivot based on the flawless pivot action of Ben Hogan.**

**”MCS – Perfect Pivot” is Part 3 of the “MCS Golf Swing Trilogy,” now available for download!

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11 thoughts on “So Rory McIlroy Tweaked His Back… (Updated – Rib Injury)

  1. D Watts Post author

    Update – It’s a stress fracture in the ribs, as told by Alex Myers of Golf Digest:

    Rory McIlroy was taken down by Graeme Storm in a playoff at the South African Open on Sunday. On Monday, he was taken out by a rib injury.

    Following his first tournament, McIlroy underwent tests that showed he had sustained a stress fracture in his ribs. As a result, the four-time major champion has pulled out of this week’s Abu Dhabi Championship.

    So, that’s some stress he’s putting on his upper torso… but as notoriously, er, strong-willed as he is, I think young Rors will be taking the appropriate time off and not rushing back – the Masters is in three months and remains the only major he hasn’t yet won.

    So, Rory will be on the DL until he’s well and recovered, I’m betting.

  2. Laser

    Stress fracture? I’ll bet he got it in the gym.

    In golf, it seems like a muscle, ligament, or connective tissue injury would be the usual problem.

    1. D Watts Post author

      I have no idea how he got it. Of course, his swing is very violent through impact, so I have my guess.

      I would think that if he suffered a fracture while pumping iron, he would have felt it immediately and got himself to an evaluation. The fact that he said after his Friday round that “I tweaked my back somehow” would lead me to think it happened during a swing.

      But, anything I say would be speculation.

  3. targettom

    had a disagreement with another golfer tonite about this. I talked to him about MCS, restricted hips, lifting the lead heel, baseball batters etc. He still didn’t get it. DUH!!! He also thinks that if one is over 40 they can’t have a big shoulder turn/hip turn. So I showed him I can easily get past 100 degrees shoulder turn. 110 even. Still didn’t get it

    1. D Watts Post author

      Tom, good luck with that.

      Very few people want to know how to swing in a mechanically-sound manner, as they’ve been taught over the last 20 years that you can win with just about any kind of swing, with the modern equipment.

      You can – but if the swing is not mechanically-sound, you’re headed for the falls without a paddle. You can catch all the fish you want, but once you go over the edge, you’ll wish you’d fished a different river.

      Golfers are different, however. They think any swing is fine, and when body parts start dropping off, you hear, “That’s the price of playing golf…”

  4. targettom

    This morning on GC they were talking about Rory’s workouts being a culprit. Sure, maybe that’s a contributing factor. But no mention of the elephant in the room (planted feet, restricted hips)

    1. D Watts Post author

      Of course they won’t mention the elephant in the room, Tom – to mix metaphors, if you’ll forgive me, that elephant in the room is the golf industry’s cash cow – they will blame everything but the way these guys are swinging.

      Sure, the workouts may or may not be part of the problem – but the problem is WHY Rory needs to work out to swing a 13 oz golf club.

      Solve that riddle, and the big elephant goes down…

    1. D Watts Post author

      What’s insane is that they are denying the true cause of these injuries. Mass delusion on a scale that I’ve never seen before in a sport other than modern golf.

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