(Reuters) - Rory McIlroy was suffering from a back problem during his South African Open playoff loss to England's Graeme Storm on Sunday and the Briton will undergo scans this week to learn the extent of the injury and time he could be forced to sit out.
McIlroy has been injury-free since missing two months with a sprained ankle in 2015, a layoff that prevented him from defending his British Open title, and the latest setback could rule him out of next week's Abu Dhabi Championship.
"I am going for a scan... to see what's up with this joint in my back. It was manageable this week with tape and a few pills so I am fine," the world number two told British media.
"But first and foremost, I have to get fully fit and healthy again. I don't want to jeopardize long-term goals for short-term gain."
It is a worrying start to the year for the four-times major winner as McIlroy targets a return to the top of the world rankings and the completion of a career grand slam at the Masters in April.
(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru)