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McIlroy: I can overcome back woes

Rory McIlroy's back has been bothering him since his amateur days, but the 20-year-old believes that, with proper maintenance, it should not stop him being a long-term golfing force.

The Northern Irish youngster saw a specialist last week after his back flared up during the Dubai Desert Classic, but was cleared to play this week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

McIlroy, rated one of golf's most exciting young prospects and already ranked eighth in the world less than three years after turning professional, said his back had been troubling him since 2007.

"The summer before the (2007) Walker Cup it was really bad," he said. "This is fine, compared with what it used (to be like). It comes and goes. If I play a couple of weeks in a row it's fine.

"Play three weeks and I can feel it a little bit, the fourth week starts to hurt.

"So I'm trying to manage my schedule so I'm not playing too much golf and not putting too much stress on it."

McIlroy described the problem as a "stress change" in two facet joints in his lower back. The joints, he indicated, crunch together when he makes a full swing.

But he insisted he would be ready to play at his best in the $8.5m event at Dove Mountain, where his first round opponent tomorrow will be American Kevin Na.

McIlroy will line up in a field boasting 64 of the world's top 66 players, with Americans Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson the notable absentees.

Woods has taken an indefinite break from the game in the wake of revelations about his marital infidelities, while Mickelson said he would miss the event to take a family holiday.