Rory McIlroy will attempt to play through the pain barrier at the USPGA Championship after bravely – or stupidly – taking on an impossible shot in the first round at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
McIlroy’s attempts to hit the ball away from the root of an exposed tree left the US Open champion writhing in agony on only the third hole of his first round at golf’s final major of the season.
The 22-year-old required on-course treatment from two physios as he battled on to finish with a level-par 70 for his opening round as Tiger Woods faltered badly and veteran Steve Stricker set the way.
Visit Rory McIlroy's profile page for more stories, his bio and photos
An MRI scan revealed tendon damage to the 22-year-old’s wrists with McIlroy set to test the injury on the driving range on Friday morning before any decision is made on his participation in the second round in Atlanta.
“It was dangerous, yeah,” a realistic McIlroy told reporters after another day of drama for the Holywood youngster.
“I thought if I could make contact with the ball and just let the club go, I might get away with it. In hindsight, it would have been better to chip out sideways.
“I thought I could hit the ball and let go of the club on impact. I went through impact and held onto the club too long, jarred my right wrist and my right forearm. It was obviously very painful after that.
“The impact of hitting the tree root caused a sharp pain up the forearm and resulted in swelling on the inside of my wrist.”
McIlroy decided to play on in pain after consulting with two physios on the course and getting his wrist strapped up.
He explained: “They said, ‘it’s your decision, if you want to play on and you feel comfortable doing that, (do) but if not, 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 decided I might as well try and play through the pain and get it over and done with.
“They reckon I’ve just caught the nerve in between the two bones, and every time I went through a shot, I was in a lot of pain. It’s just going through impact, it hurts a little bit.”
After battling his way to an even par 70 on a day when some big names really struggled – including Darren Clarke – McIlroy added: “I finished with one hand but I hit some good shots. The only thing that let me down, I missed a couple of short putts.
“But the injury was always there in my mind. So, to shoot even par was a good effort. If it’s the same on Friday and I know I am not going to do any more damage to it, I will play.
“There were a couple of points where I thought about not continuing but, as I said, it’s very important tournament and I’m still in the hunt.”
McIlroy’s management company has confirmed that the player will test the injury on Friday morning before any decision is made regarding his second round participation.
A spokesman for McIlroy’s management company said: “The initial diagnosis shows that Rory has strained a tendon in his right wrist. He will obviously rest it and he will see how it feels on the range on Friday morning.”
Padraig Harrington is next best of the Irish behind McIlroy on three over, Graeme McDowell is four over and Darren Clarke eight over.