McIlroy is no stranger to pulling off the seemingly impossible at Quail Hollow, making the cut on the mark before carding weekend rounds of 66 and 62 to win his maiden PGA Tour title here in 2010.
McIlroy reiterated that sentiment on Sunday, telling reporters: "You might not see me again until next year, you might see me in a couple weeks".
"I don't know what I'm going to do", said McIlroy.
The play-offs get under way with the Northern Trust Open on August 24 and McIlroy is the defending champion of the Dell Technologies Championship the following week. He didn't putt all that well (70th in strokes gained putting), and the course played differently than it had in the past.
"So I don't know what to do".
"I hit the ball even better than yesterday (the first round), but again I had a start where I missed a 3-4 footer for par and began with a bogey".
McIlroy, ranked No. 4 in the world, suffered a stress fracture of a rib in January while overdoing it in practice and took almost two months off before playing again. He says he has been practicing more than usual the last few weeks to get ready for the PGA Championship.
"So I hit a six iron and just said, "okay, I'll bounce it up the cart path and see where this goes". If there is one certainty when it comes to McIlroy, it's that he will drill at least a few powerful and picturesque drives. His chip stopped about 10 feet from the hole and after that bogey putt went wide right, he tapped in for a double bogey that left him six strokes behind Kisner.
Bemused by the ups and downs of the game, Lowry said: "This game puzzles me every day of the week".
McIlroy's "Catch-22" is the fact he believes he can play in tournaments, but his practice time has to be limited. "At the same time ..."
McIlroy paused for the longest time. "That's the next big thing on my radar". "As I said, the next big thing is April, and that's really what my focus will be on from now until then".
However, he already has one eye on next April's Masters, which he needs to win to complete the career grand slam.
"I'm going to approach the first two (playoff) events trying to obviously win, but looking to kind of crescendo into East Lake and peak there and consider East Lake a major at this point, as far as our preparation goes", Spieth said. "I have got this next week off to assess what I need to go forward".
"[The pain is] not as bad".
"It's there. I can feel it, " he said. So it's there and I can play 18 holes. "If it was injury-free, that wouldn't happen". "I need to look at it that way, and I am".
Jordan Spieth's attempt to replace Tiger Woods as the youngest player ever to achieve the full-set of majors is in tatters after a third-round 71 at Quail Hollow. "If I get out tomorrow and get off to hopefully a better start, I feel like I'll still be right in this tournament".
"I think I've been playing pretty good". I had never seen a hole location short of a false front before.