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McIlroy playing through back injury at Tour Championship

Rory McIlroy Rory McIlroy - The Canadian Press

If world No. 2 Rory McIlroy is going to win his fourth career FedEx Cup championship this week, he'll have to do it through some pain. 

The 34-year-old McIlroy injured his lower back earlier this week and is dealing with some muscle issues. 

According to Golf Channel's Todd Lewis, McIlroy arrived at East Lake Golf Course in Atlanta for the opening round of the season-ending Tour Championship on Thursday and hit 20 balls ahead of his tee time. It marked the first time he hit balls this week. 

McIlroy opened with a par on the opening hole before bogeying the par-3 second to open his round.

The native of Northern Ireland, who won the FedEx Cup in 2016, 2019 and 2022, began his round at 7-under, three strokes behind leader and world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler.

The winner of the Tour Championship will also capture the FedEx Cup.

McIlroy has won twice this season, at The CJ Cup and the Genesis Scottish Open, and also was a runner-up at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and U.S. Open. He finished third and fourth at the St. Jude Championship and the BMW Championship, respectively, the first two events of the FedEx Cup playoffs.