Rory McIlroy withdraws from Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with rib injury

A day after finishing runner-up at the BMW SA Open in South Africa, world No. 2 Rory McIlroy withdrew from this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in the United Arab Emirates, citing a rib injury.

“It’s bitterly disappointing to have to withdraw from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship,” McIlroy said in a statement released by the European Tour. “I think everyone knows how much I love playing this tournament, which is one of the best on the European Tour.

“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.”

McIlroy first experienced a tweaking pain on Friday in Johannesburg, suggesting that there was a modest chance he would have withdrawn ahead of his second round. Instead, he played through the issue, losing to champion Graeme Storm on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff. Afterward, McIlroy said he would seek out an MRI on Monday to find out more about his injury. As it turns out, it was not the back that was the source of the issue, rather a rib problem.

The four-time major winner suggested that the source of his injury may have been extensive off-season practice to identify the equipment he would use to start 2017 for the beginning of his first full season without Nike Golf in the equipment business since signing on with the Swoosh. Other critics will point to McIlroy’s extensive gym and fitness work as a hindrance, but that’s unclear. What is clear is that McIlroy’s schedule may change by more than one start, and that could mean messing up a pace McIlroy hoped would lead him to Augusta National in proper form to win his first Masters title and complete the career Grand Slam.