Rory McIlroy received treatment on Friday for a back injury

He "tweaked" his upper back ahead of his second round at the South Africa Open, but played through the pain to card a round of 68

Rory McIlroy

Image: Ng Han Guan AP/Press Association Images

Rory McIlroy admitted he was close to pulling out of the South Africa Open this afternoon after "tweaking" his back.

Organisers will be holding their breath as McIlroy treats the injury ahead of his third round on Saturday. The 27-year-old played through the pain to card a second round 68 in Johannesburg

Speaking after his round, he shed light on the nature of the injury and whether it will rule him out of the tournament.

"I'm sort of surprised I'm standing here. I was thinking of pulling out last night before even teeing off today," said the four-time major winner. "I tweaked my back and the first few shots today weren't very comfortable. It's still no very comfortable. I can't really take a deep breath because I've done something to my upper back.

"I'm going to go and get some treatment, but considering that I played well. I stuck at it, hopefully I'll feel a bit better tomorrow."

Asked whether he would in fact pull out of the competition he said: "I don't want to, it would let a lot of people down. That's why I kept going today."

McIlroy excelled in mostly calm conditions, before play was halted for the day due to the threat of lightning. His putting, usually a weakness in his game, saw him go on a run of -8 through eight holes.

"The middle was good once I got it going. I saw putts go in and got some momentum from that. Disappointing to finish the way I did, I thought I hit a good shot on 17 but I just pitched a bit too far. On 18 I was probably just trying to rush in with this weather. 

"The start and finish wasn't great, but everything in between was pretty good."