Rory McIlroy might not play again in 2017 as he continues to struggle with the injury which has limited him to 13 events in a winless season, his third in succession without a major title.
McIlroy came into the US PGA Championship as the pre-tournament favourite on the back of top-five finishes in his last two starts and a brilliant record at the host venue of Quail Hollow, including two wins and a course record of 61.
However, the 28-year-old was never in contention for a first major victory since the 2014 US PGA at Valhalla and completed a closing 68 before the final groups teed off in round four.
Asked after his third round how far off his best he was following a year which has included a serious injury, a change of equipment, his wedding and a split from long-term caddie JP Fitzgerald, McIlroy simply replied: “Looking forward to 2018.”
And speaking on Sunday, the 28-year-old expanded on his dilemma about playing again this season or trying to win the FedEx Cup - and USD10million bonus - for the second year running.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said McIlroy, who suffered the rib/back injury testing equipment over the winter.
“You might not see me until next year. It really depends. 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.”