Rory McIlroy won’t be changing his swing to reduce the danger of a career threatening back injury.
At least, that’s the view of his long-time coach Michael Bannon, who insists that rumours of long term damage to his star pupil are wide of the mark.
Sources close to McIlroy have told industry insiders that the world No 7 has two damaged discs in his back and must change his swing over the next 18 months to avoid major injury.
But Bannon insisted: “We’ve known for a long time that Rory gets a bit of a jar in his back, but there are no plans at the minute to make changes in his swing, as far as I am aware.
“I haven’t spoken to Rory since he came back from Dubai. I will get to see him tomorrow (Friday) and chat to him but I don’t foresee any changes.”
Talk has been rife in European circles that McIlroy is in major trouble with one insider explaining: “It’s a lot worse than they are saying. He has two discs out of place in his lower back and he’s going to have to make some changes over the next 18 months.”
His fear may have been allayed since McIlroy had a scan on his back in Belfast on Monday afternoon.
His manager Chubby Chandler revealed that the player is suffering from nothing more sinister than “a slight nerve impingement” and “stretched ligaments” in his lower back brought on by 10 days of practice before the Gulf Swing.
Chandler said: “All the early season practice took its toll last week and his back began to ache at the weekend. It was decided to get it checked and thankfully there is nothing serious.”
That view was confirmed by Bannon, who planned to have a practice session with McIlroy today as the world No 7 prepares for next week’s WGC Accenture Match Play in Tucson.
Bannon said: “I think the problem was that he did so much practice over four weeks in the Middle East. If anyone did that they would have a back niggle.
“It was just that he did so much work in the first week. He was in Dubai for two days before I came out, then worked eight days with me and then played two tournaments in three weeks without stopping practising.
“He hardly gave it up for even one day and that meant it was niggling a nerve. He was also standing in the same place all the time, practising his putting That’s all it is and he will be fine. It is nothing major at all.”
Before having the scan, McIlroy explained that while his swing puts his back under strain, he works with a physio to strengthen his core and avoid serious injury.
He said: “I do all the exercises I can to make everything stronger around the joints and it is a matter of resting and managing my schedule so that I am not playing too many weeks in a row.”
However, McIlroy’s problems are no surprise to one fitness expert, who has been predicting trouble for years.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said: “I am not surprised Rory is having trouble. The way he swings the club, you could see it coming.”
McIlroy wrote about his back scan on his blog this week and left no room for doubt about his condition.
There’s been a lot of stuff in the media this week about my back problems. I really didn’t want to make this an excuse for not doing better in Dubai but it did affect me slightly on the course but I was able to hit the ball ok so it shouldn’t be an excuse. It started hurting me a bit in the middle of the week and then by Saturday and Sunday it wasn’t great and I had my lower back strapped up whilst I was playing and I also had about two hours of physio on it every day. So when I returned home on Monday I had an MRI scan done in the evening and luckily things weren’t as bad as we first thought. There was a little bit of a stress change on the facet joints, and although you can’t see it on an MRI scan, one of the ligaments in the lower back is slightly strained but apart from that there was a bit of fluid that had collected around the joints and that was making it a little sore. So I’ve rested up these past few days and done all the exercises that I was given to do and it’s definitely getting better and I’m going to hit a few balls tomorrow morning.