Tuesday 16 January 2018

Rory McIlroy plays on with injury

Mark Garrod, Press Association Sport Golf Correspondent, Atlanta

Rory McIlroy played on in the USPGA Championship in Atlanta today with his right arm still bandaged up.

The 22-year-old US Open champion injured himself hitting a tree root on the third hole of his opening round in the final major of the year, but remarkably came in with a level-par 70.

He went straight off for a scan afterwards that revealed a tendon strain, but no serious damage.

The Northern Irish star did not arrive on the practice range this morning until 30 minutes before his tee-off time - normally he would be expected there at least an hour before - and hit shots for only 15 minutes before moving on to the putting green.

However, the second round did not begin well for him in terms of his title hopes. Off a perfect drive down the 10th his pitch spun back to the front fringe, from where he three-putted for a bogey that left him eight adrift of overnight leader Steve Stricker.

McIlroy had taken some anti-inflammatory pills and the scan had also been sent back to specialists in England for a second opinion.

Physio Cornell Driessen, who treated McIlroy on the course following the incident, said that the main thing was that the tendon was intact and there was not even a partial tear.

Manager Andrew "Chubby" Chandler, said: "I was in a meeting when it happened. I got a text telling me that there would be a new seven-iron ready for him this morning, so I knew he had broken a club.

"Then I got a lot of texts asking if he was all right, so I knew he had a problem.

"The medical centre we went to were unbelievable. It was shut, but they got a hand specialist and two orthopaedic surgeons there to have a look.

"Rory wants to play and the guys said that if the worst comes to the worst he might be out a week longer."

On the wisdom of taking on the shot up against the root Chandler added: "Guys play to the limit. If he thinks he can do it he's going to have a go.

"He said the root was a foot in front of the ball. It looked two or three inches to me!

"He's fine. Everybody has a different pain threshold, but I know he winced a lot when he was working on it this morning.

"I can't believe he shot 70 with all that gunge (strapping) on."

And on whether caddie JP Fitzgerald should have perhaps intervened more, Chandler said: "He doesn't listen to the caddie anyway!"

McIlroy parred the 11th, hitting his long first putt five feet past, but making the return.

There was one withdrawal from the event, though. American JB Holmes pulled out through illness after his opening 80.

Stricker and fellow American Jerry Kelly, two behind after his five-under 65, were among the later starters, but Dane Anders Hansen was out early and with a birdie at the 512-yard par-four second he went into a tie for third place on three under.

Former winner Shaun Micheel had been third on his own at four under when he resumed, but he bogeyed the 10th and 11th before coming back with a birdie at the long 12th.

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