‘I think you’re lying’: Charles Barkley ribs Rory McIlroy over injury in on-course chat
Rory McIlroy has been battling nagging back pain at this week’s Tour Championship, and on Saturday he had to fend off an additional obstacle: teasing from one of the great trash-talkers in all of sports, NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley.
Early in the week, McIlroy revealed that he’d injured his back on Monday in an unexpected way: throwing his daughter Poppy in a pool while relaxing with his family.
The tweak to his back lingered, as he explained on Thursday.
“On Tuesday morning, I felt a little tight, and I went into my gym at home, and I just sort of foam-rolled and stretched. I went to grab something and my whole right side just completely seized up, spasm,” McIlroy said after his first round. “So I spent two hours with the physio at home, flew up here, felt a little better.”
But then on Wednesday, the day before the start of the tournament, the pain got worse during another session in the gym.
“I was at the bottom of a squat, a body-weight squat, and my whole lower back spasmed, seized up. I couldn’t move. I honestly couldn’t address the ball this time yesterday. So to get to where I am today is good.”
While the four-time major champion could be seen grimacing during shots, he still managed to play some solid golf and stay in contention over the first three rounds.
More surprisingly, he found a way to continue to smash long drives, which brings us to Barkley.
The former NBA star and current TV personality was helping out with CBS’s Tour Championship coverage at East Lake, and at one point on Saturday McIlroy walked by Barkley’s booth and they sparked up a conversation.
Barkley opened with a simple question: “How is your back?”
Rory responded tentatively, “It’s… it’s OK,” which left the perfect opening for Barkley.
“You got your speed up on one of these drives today,” Barkley continued, “So I think you’re lying.”
The line earned laughs from everyone in the area, including McIlroy.
“But I can’t hit the ball up in the air, I got to keep it low,” Rory replied defending himself.
To be fair, Barley has a point. Through the first three rounds, McIlroy leads the field in driving distance, with a jaw-dropping average of 334.9 yards. So the injury doesn’t seem to be hampering his swing all that much.
Following the quip, the two star athletes shared a handshake and some pleasantries, with Barkley revealing that he recently became a grandfather, which earned some congratulations from Rory.
Barkley also shared that he had recently lost “70 lbs,” and the reason?
“My doctor told me there aint no fat old people.”
After another fist-bump, they were off. Despite the back injury, Rory heads into the final round of the Tour Championship T8 at nine under, with an outside shot to pull off a miracle on Sunday.
To do so, though, he’ll need a lot of help from 54-hole leader Viktor Hovland, who starts the finale 11 shots ahead of McIlroy with a six-shot lead.