Image copyright Shutterstock Image caption Rory McIlroy was diagnosed with Claret Jug frostbite after being beaten in a play-off at the 2007 Masters
The symptoms of a life-threatening disease were so horrific that Rory McIlroy called it his “nightmare” – but thanks to his wife, they turned into something much more positive.
The two-time Masters champion revealed his condition during an interview with a magazine, when he recounted his visit to a doctor following a crash with a cart in his car.
At first he thought it was just something to do with the snow on the road, but the more concerned he got, the more he realised his condition was “very bad”, and that he would have just weeks to live.
“The doctors told me they had done all they could, everything was swelling and muscle and tissue was leaving and going to black mass,” he said.
“I could have only six weeks to live – so I thought this must be very bad.”
It was only when his wife Caroline drove him to another doctor that the real damage to Rory’s body was revealed.
“I got off the sofa and I was shivering. I had two layers of fleece on and my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Amelia was sitting in front of me and I was shivering.
“Then I got back into the car and the two-and-a-half-year-old was saying ‘Are you OK, are you OK, are you OK?’
“I said, ‘Yeah, I’m just freezing’. I think Amelia probably wrote that down and put it on the refrigerator to remind me. I was just shivering.”
McIlroy, who also underwent surgery in 2016 for a deviated septum, had an epidural in 2011 as part of his recovery from a partially collapsed lung, but said there was no way he could have predicted how serious his condition was.
“I think most people with their doctor would have more or less said, ‘Well, he hasn’t got much longer to live, let’s make sure he’s healthy,’ but they didn’t get to that point,” he added.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Rory McIlroy was nearly left for dead after his car crash in 2010
“It was just a whirlwind. I thought I was just going to be fit and healthy for the rest of my life.”
Thanks to Caroline McIlroy, he is now fighting fit and fighting on, and has shown people what it means to be “stronger than a storm”, as he tells Open champion Francesco Molinari in an exclusive video interview with the BBC Sport website.