JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Rory McIlroy looked at his ball, resting against a tree root, and decided to take a whack at it.
The U.S. Open champion injured his right wrist with the ill-advised swing Thursday in the opening round of the PGA Championship.
McIlroy played on after his mishap at the third hole, but in obvious pain. He finally had the wrist checked out by a physical therapist, and was apparently reassured that he couldn’t hurt it any worse. He also had the wrist taped up, providing extra support.
“There’s just a sharp pain,” the 22-year-old told Jeff Hendra, a physio who works with the PGA Tour.
Despite the discomfort, McIlroy managed to shoot an even-par 35 on the front side, looking as though he had no intention of giving up his bid for a second major title.
He got into trouble when he drove it among the trees left of the third fairway, the ball stopping against a large, exposed root. Instead of just punching back into a clear area, McIlroy chose to go at it aggressively with a 7-iron.
As soon as he struck the ball, he let the club fall out of his hands. He began to shake his arm and flex the wrist. Within minutes, he asked for an ice compress, which he held on his wrist between every shot.
At the par-3 fourth, McIlroy again dropped the club after striking his tee shot. He still managed to get it on the green and two-putt for par. Then, at the fifth, Hendra arrived to examine the wrist, causing a brief delay for McIlroy’s threesome.
Hendra bent the wrist back sharply, trying to determine if McIlroy had caused any serious damage or could hurt it any worse. The player seemed satisfied with what he heard and rejoined his group: British Open champion Darren Clarke and Masters winner Charl Schwartzel.
McIlroy won the U.S. Open with a record 16-under score and was considered the favorite in the PGA.