SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – While many players start a major championship wondering if they can compete, Rory McIlroy began Thursday’s opening round at the PGA Championship not entirely sure how his body would hold up.
The world No. 1 is making his first start since injuring his left ankle last month and finished his day pleased with his physical performance if not his score.
“As you can see out there, the way I'm hitting the ball and the way I'm getting around the golf course, I have full confidence in it. It doesn't bother me one bit,” McIlroy said after a first-round 71.
There were a few moments of uncertainty, like on the fifth hole when he hit his third shot on the par 5 left of the green and into a pond.
After rolling up his right pant leg, he descended a steep hill and splashed, literally, his partially submerged golf ball to 5 feet that he made for an unlikely par.
“The only thing I was trying not to do was get my feet wet,” he said of his adventure on the fifth hole. “If the water gets through this shoe and then the tape gets wet and then that would be a little more than just sort of annoying or uncomfortable for the rest of the day.”
Otherwise, McIlroy – who hadn’t played a PGA Tour event since June’s U.S. Open – said his left ankle was fine, as evidenced by his second shot into the par-5 second hole that rolled to 15 feet for a two-putt birdie.
“That was one of the best 3-woods I've ever hit,” McIlroy said. “The only thing I was a little bit worried about going into today is whether I could bring this good golf that I know that I have been playing into a competitive round. Thankfully, I felt like I did that.”