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Rory McIlroy, dealing with back injury, may not play on Long Island next week

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, hits from the

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, hits from the bunker on the 15th hole during the final round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Quail Hollow Club Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Credit: AP / Chris O'Meara

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rory McIlroy appears doubtful at best for the Northern Trust on Long Island next week. He did not say so specifically, but he cited an upper back injury and indicated he might need to take a large amount of time off.

“Right now, it’s a tough one because I go out there and play and shoot decent scores, but when I come off the course, I feel my left rhomboid going into spasm. Inside of my left arm goes numb,” he said after having shot his only good round of the week, 3-under-par 68, to finish at 1 over. “So I don’t know what to do. I have got this next week off to assess what I need, to go forward.”

He was disappointed about having gone a third consecutive season without winning a major. McIlroy salvaged last year by winning the Tour Championship and the $10-million FedEx Cup playoff title. But when he was asked for a good reason why he should open the 2017 playoffs, which begin with the Northern Trust at Glen Oaks, he did not have a definitive answer.

“I feel like I’m capable and playing well enough to give myself a chance in it. At the same time, April is a long way away. That’s the next big thing on my radar,” he said, referring to the Masters, the only major keeping him from the career Grand Slam.

Johnson works his way back

Dustin Johnson will be in the field at Glen Oaks. He shot 67 yesterday to finish the PGA at par, still looking to regain the form that escaped him when he fell at his Augusta rental home and injured his back on the eve of the Masters.

“Going into Augusta, I’m playing the best golf of my career. Everything is working very well, and then unfortunately I didn’t get to play in the Masters and then just struggled a little bit this whole summer,” he said.

As for the back, he said, “It’s fine. I can still feel it a little bit. No pain or anything like that. Still just a bit tight. It’s not injured. I just need to keep working on stretching it.”

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