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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Rory McIlroy enjoyed turning 32 on Tuesday and was feeling just fine hitting balls on the range Wednesday getting ready for one of his favorite tournaments.
One swing, however, had him wondering if he’d even get to play.
“I hit a 3‑iron, flushed it and I turned back to talk to Harry (Diamond, his caddie) and as I turned, my left side of my neck just completely locked up and I couldn’t move it,” McIlroy said. “It was really, really strange.”
McIlroy immediately shut his work on the range down and headed for treatment hoping to play in the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I iced it all of Wednesday afternoon, Wednesday night. I woke up Thursday, didn’t have much movement. Was trying to make a backswing and could only maybe take it half the way back before it started to catch,” McIlroy said. “If I had been playing Thursday morning, I probably would have pulled out, but I had enough time to get treatment Thursday morning, get it loosened up. It was still bothering me on Thursday afternoon. People probably saw the tape that was on my neck, but it sort of loosened up as the week went on.”
And what a week it turned out to be. McIlroy, who hadn’t won in just over 550 days and hadn’t made it to weekend play in two months, won for third time at Quail Hollow with a final-round 68.
McIlroy finished at 10-under 274 and one shot clear of Abraham Ancer. The former world No. 1 and four-time major winner now has 19 PGA Tour titles.
And now he’ll head to Kiawah Island as one of the favorites in the PGA Championship in two weeks. He won the 2012 PGA there by eight shots.
“Hopefully history repeats itself and I can get a lot of confidence from this and go forward,” he said. “But I’m just happy that I can hit the golf shots that I need to under pressure.
“It’s certainly great timing. This is obviously a huge confidence boost going in there knowing that my game is closer than it has been. I’ll be able to poke holes in everything that I did today, it’s certainly far from perfect, but this one is validation that I’m on the right track.”