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McIlroy headed for MRI on sore back

Rory McIlroy, left, who has been playing with back pain, walks with Graeme Storm during the SA Open. Storm beat McIlroy in a playoff.

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Rory McIlroy, left, who has been playing with back pain, walks with Graeme Storm during the SA Open. Storm beat McIlroy in a playoff.

JOHANNESBURG — Graeme Storm beat Rory McIlroy on the third playoff hole to win the SA Open on Sunday, earning the Englishman a second PGA European Tour title 80 days after losing his card by $106.

After the 251st-ranked Storm tapped in for par, McIlroy slid his par putt wide from 7 feet on their fourth visit to the 18th hole at the Glendower Golf Club.

"I'm in shock, this has been a surreal week," Storm said. "To find myself in the position I was in, playing on the final day with the best player in the world right now. It's just a dream come true."

McIlroy, the world No. 2, started the final round three strokes behind Storm but chased down the overnight leader, moving atop the leaderboard when Storm missed a 3-foot par putt on No. 14. McIlroy relinquished the lead by bogeying No. 17 after taking two shots in a greenside bunker, taking the event to a playoff as both finished 18-under 270.

McIlroy shot 4-under 68 Sunday and Storm had 71.

Storm lost his card at the end of last year, only to get a reprieve when American Patrick Reed failed to play enough events to join the tour. His other title came at the French Open in 2007.

Jordan Smith of England was a shot back in third (271).

McIlroy said he is going for tests on his back today to make sure he is fit to play in this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy said he felt pain in his back before the second round, and it lingered throughout the final round. McIlroy was flying to Dubai on Sunday and said he would have an MRI exam "just to see what's up with this joint in my back."

"It's okay," McIlroy said on the tour's website. "It was manageable this week. I'm taped up and I've got a few pills in me, and I'm fine. But first and foremost, that's the most important thing, to get fit and healthy again. And hopefully I'll be all right to play next week."

McIlroy has a chance to return to No. 1 in the world if he were to win the tournament. McIlroy has not been atop the world rankings since September 2015.

PGA: Justin Thomas won the Sony Open with the lowest 72-hole score in tour history. Thomas capped his week at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu that began with 59 with his second straight victory. He closed with a 5-under 65 to set the record at 27-under 253. Tommy Armour III shot 254 at the 2003 Texas Open. "It's been an unbelievable week. Unforgettable," Thomas said. Justin Rose closed with 64 to finish seven strokes back at 260. Jordan Spieth shot 63 to finish third at 261. Thomas produced the eighth sub-60 round in PGA Tour history Thursday, then Kevin Kisner shot 60 on Saturday after missing a 9-foot eagle putt on his final hole. Sunday, Chez Reavie made a hole-in-one with a 6-iron on the 17th hole and finished with 61 (264 overall).

McIlroy headed for MRI on sore back 01/15/17 [Last modified: Sunday, January 15, 2017 11:06pm]
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