“Oh Magoo, you’ve done it again!”
People of a certain age will remember Quincy Magoo, the shortsighted cartoon character “who gets into a series of sticky situations as a result of his nearsightedness, compounded by his stubborn refusal to admit the problem. However, through uncanny streaks of luck, the situation always seems to work itself out for him, leaving him no worse than before.”
Replace nearsightedness with youth and you have Rory McIlroy, who jumps from one frying pan to the next by being his own man, as we hear consistently recently. More often than not, he gets away with it in the end. But this time it remains to be seen if he can make another Magoo style escape.
McIlroy’s charm and honesty makes him a hugely likeable superstar but his risky wrist shot at Atlanta Athletic Club on Thursday could lead to a serious physical problem that might impact his ability to compete on the biggest stage. It could also kill the golden goose for his management company as the big appearance money events beckon between September and Christmas, not to mention the increased scrutinty that his caddie has already received from sources such as the Golf Channel
Hitting a tree root on his follow through on the third hole almost put the tournament favourite out the US PGA before it had truly started. That he played on in pain and shot a level par 70 is a testament to his courage and incredible skill but it could prove to be a fatal error.
An initial MRI scan taken at an Atlanta hospital last night revealed some damage to his wrist.
According to a spokesman from his management company: “The initial diagnosis shows that Rory has strained a tendon in his right wrist. He will obviously rest it tonight and he will see how it feels in the morning on the range.”
Luke Donald, who missed the 2008 Ryder Cup because of a wrist injury, tweeted: “Just walked by TV saw Rory hurt his wrist, made me feel sick #badmemories #fingerscrossed”
McIlroy looked concerned after his round and spoke to reporters for three minutes before heading to hospital for his MRI scan.
Q. Talk us through your thinking on the second shot; we were surprised, it looked dangerous.
RORY McILROY: It was dangerous. Yeah, I mean, I think maybe the tree was maybe a foot in front of (indiscernible) and I thought if I could make contact with the ball and just let the club go, I might get away with it, and you know, in hindsight it would have been better to chip out sideways. I still made five.
Yeah, it was a shot that I felt like, if I took it on and pulled it off, it could have saved me a shot.
But yeah, I’ve obviously, you know, went through impact and held on to the club too long. Yeah, jarred my right wrist and my right forearm, and it was very obviously very painful after that.
Q. Can you describe what you felt in your wrist, how much pain and how much discomfort?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, just through that shot, it was just like a sharp pain up the forearm, and then there’s a little bit of swelling, just on the inside of my wrist. And then it was going up into my elbow and my shoulder. So just going to go and get an MRI now and just see if there’s no damage done to it.
Q. Did the physio tell you as you were going around that you wouldn’t be able to injure yourself anymore?
RORY McILROY: They said is it’s your decision; if you want to play on and you feel comfortable doing that, but if not, then there’s no point in risking it. It’s the last major of the year. I’ve got, what, six or seven months to the Masters. So I may as well try and play through the pain and get it over and done with.
Q. In the circumstances, how good was the 70?
RORY McILROY: To be honest, the amount of time that I finished with one hand, I hit some good shots. The only thing that let me down, I missed a couple of short putts. But it was always there in my mind. So to shoot even par, it was a good effort.
Q. How difficult was it to continue, and if it’s the same tomorrow, would you play?
RORY McILROY: If it’s the same tomorrow, and I know that I’m not going to do any more damage to it, I’ll play. There’s a couple of points where I thought about not continuing. But as I said, it’s a very important tournament, and I’m still I’m still even par. I’m still in the hunt. So we’ll see what the results are tonight, and if I can strap it up and play again tomorrow, I will.
Q. How bad is the pain right now, and what did they tell you medically in terms of the injury?
RORY McILROY: Right now it’s okay. It’s just throbbing a little bit in the swollen area. It’s basically when I go through impact and try and my right arm, they reckon I’ve just caught the nerve in between the two bones, and every time I went through a shot, I just I was in a lot of pain. But right now it’s okay. It’s just going through impact, it hurts a little bit.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, we’ll see. We’ll see and see in an hour’s time.
The round itself made for fascinating viewing and it completey overshadowed Steve Stricker’s 63 and Tiger Woods’ 77.
The US Open champion, 22, jarred his right wrist badly when he tried to hit from behind a root in the trees left of the 475-yard third and smashed his eight iron into the root before letting the club spin out of his hand.
Despite having his right arm bandage from the wrist to the palm by physio Cornell Driessen at the eighth, he played his first 12 holes in an amazing one under par before sandwiching a birdie from five feet at the 16th between bogeys at the par three 15th and 17th
It was a dramatic start to McIlroy’s bid to leave the US without a major winner this year after wins for stablemates and playing partners Charl Schwartzel (71) in the Masters and Darren Clarke (78) in the Open.
Pouring cold water on his wrist to ease the pain, he bogeyed the fourth after bunkering his third shot and looked certain to pull out.
But he then incredibly hit back between treatments with back to back birdies - getting up and down from sand at the par-five fifth before holing a 20 footer at the sixth and narrowly missing a seven footer for another birdie at the seventh.
Three putts at the eighth sent him back to level par but he brilliantly saved par from 10 feet at the ninth and then did it again from 15 feet at the 10th.
In trouble off the tee at the par five 12th he chopped back to the fairway but then hit his approach to 15 feet and canned the putt to get into red figures at one under before finishing the day tied for 23rd.
After reviewing TV footage, PGA officials said he had no case to answer over an incident at the 12th. A TV called in to ask if McIlroy had taken advice from his physio over difficult lie in a nasty depression in the pine needles on the left. The physio appeared to tell him not to take on the shot but McIlroy chopped the ball back into play anyway and made birdie.
As for Clarke, the Ulsterman shot an eight over 78 as he struggled off the tee and mixed bogeys at the second, eighth, ninth, 10th and 18th with a triple bogey eight at the 12th.
Grame McDowell made his seventh bogey of the day at the 18th against just three birdies and complained about his driving and his putting after signing for a 74.
Playing with a Never Compromise copy of his faithful Odyssey putter, he said: “It just didn’t really happen for me. Drove the ball very averagely. Kind of had the rights going off the tee. These bunkers are so penal. The sand in them, the ball sits right down. So it doesn’t give you much of a chance, so typically any time I hit it in them, I made bogey.
“Made a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in. And like I say, just couldn’t really get it going. I hit a lot of decent shots. But just didn’t really have any momentum out there. You know, like I said, the driver just wasn’t behaving itself at all.”
Asked if he felt capable of making the cut and then mounting a challenge, McDowell said: “For sure. You know, if I can get the ball in play, my iron play is such that you know, I know I can make some birdies. And like I say, I felt like I putted well today. I know I can putt better on these greens. Yeah, I can go low tomorrow morning for sure.”
Q. The characteristics of this golf course, they have thrown up an 85 for Ryo Ishikawa, 63 for Steve Stricker, almost a major championship record; it is a strange scenario today the way the scoring has been so diverse?
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, it’s that kind of golf course. There’s a lot of water on this golf course, so you can make a number. You know, you can get in big trouble. You can make doubles and triples, and you know, if you stay out of those, there are a lot of birdie chances, no doubt about that. You have to play those last four holes well.
There’s a stretch whereby seven or eight holes on this golf course that you have to play well. Typically 2, 3, 4, and 14 through 18. Those are the key holes on this golf course, and if you can play those in or around par, then the other ten holes give you a chance to make some birdies. So that’s really the key.
Staying out of the water, and just out of the bunkers; these bunkers plug, not very nice.