Catch 22 — noun. A dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.
For an illustrated example, look at Rory McIlroy and his battle between taking the time off he needs to allow his rib injury to heal and his desire to get back into the winner’s circle after 11 months in the desert.
The world No 4 saw his winless streak in majors stretched to three years at Quail Hollow after a stop-start season that's been marked by the stress fracture to the ribs he suffered in January.
Yes, he ended the week on a high when he carded four birdies in a three-under par 68 to finish on one-over par as Shane Lowry shot 72 to finish three strokes further back.
But finishing in the pack at majors is not what McIlroy wants and facing an eight-month wait before he can try to complete the career Grand Slam at the Masters, he must now decide between the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs and giving himself the best possible chance of healing.
“Look, I don't know what I'm going to do,” McIlroy said in Charlotte yesterday. “You might not see me until next year. You might see me in a couple of weeks’ time. It really depends.”
To outsiders, it seems like a no-brainer.
As former world No 1 David Duval pointed out yesterday McIlroy’s swing is deteriorating because of the compensations he is making for his injury.
“I think he is doing himself a disservice by playing right now,” Duval said.
Asked why he’d feel obliged to tee it up in The Northern Trust in New York on 10 days’ time, McIlroy said: “I don’t know. I feel like a sense of, not duty, but I've missed a lot of time already.
“If I'm capable of playing, I feel like why shouldn't you. But then at the same time, if you are not capable of playing at your best, why should you play.
“So, again, it's a Catch 22. We'll see what happens. Assess my options in the next few days and see where we go from there.”
McIlroy is far from 100 percent fit and he confessed that he was in pain as he stood on a dais in the 90-degree heat yesterday.
“Right now I can feel my left rhomboid going into spasm,” he said. “It's sort of the way it has been the last few weeks.
“I have upped my practice coming into these two events because I wanted to feel like I was in a good place in my game.
“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. The inside of my left arm goes numb.
“So I don't know what to do. I have got this next week off to assess what I need to go forward.”
While he can swing the club freely, he admitted that he is getting into bad habits because he is protecting his left side.
“Oh, definitely,” he said. “I am turning the ball way too much from right to left by swinging left.
“Swinging the other way hurts me so I am hitting big draws just to protect that side.”
“Time,” he said. “That's all it is. An injury like this, it's eight full weeks of rest before you start to rehab it and then you go again.”
The problem is that McIlroy is not a patient man.
He took six weeks off in February and March to heal but after coming back for the Masters, he got married and then overdid his practice trying to get ready for the meat of the season.
“Once I started practising again, I didn't build up the volume gradually,” he said. “I went from zero to hitting balls from three or four hours a day. That aggravated it a little bit.
“I just haven't it allowed it the time to fully heal. I wanted to play the season. I feel like I'm capable of playing well and winning and putting rounds together. If I want to challenge on a more consistent basis, I need to get 100 percent healthy.
The 28-year old flew back to Northern Ireland last night and planned to catch up with his fitness guru, Dr Steve McGregor, later this week to discuss his options.
What’s frustrating McIlroy is that he feels he would be capable of challenging for more major wins at 100 percent fitness and Quail Hollow was another disappointment as he ended the week ranked first for strokes gained off the tee but ranked close to last for proximity to the hole and putting.
After three years without a major victory and facing what would only be the second winless full season of his professional career, he said: “It's tough. I want to get back into that winner's circle.
“You don't want to be teeing off at 9:45 on the final rounds of a major on a Sunday. That is not where you want to be.
“As I said, I have a good bit of time to get healthy and address a few things going forward. The next big thing is April and that's really what my focus will be on from now until then.”
As for Lowry, who wants to get back into the world’s top 50 by year’s end, he was pleased to finish in the top five for strokes gained putting.
While he is didn’t achieve his goal of moving into the Top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings, he has one last chance in this week’s Wyndham Championship and insisted he is prepared to wait patiently for the results to come.
“There's plenty of positives,” Lowry said after following bogeys at the seventh, ninth and 11th with three birdies in four holes from the 12th before closing with a bogey.
“I felt like I played nicely. I putted as good as I've putted for a long, long time and my iron play at times was very good.
“I won't need much rocking to sleep tonight, I tell you. It's tough out there. It's warm. It's wet. It's a slog, and you have to concentrate over every shot.
“This is as hard as a golf course as I've played. If the golf course had played like it did Thursday and Friday morning all week, it would have been like ridiculous
“I need a really good result next week, so I will just go out there and see what I need to do and try and do it.
“I just need to keep fighting, keep going.”