JOHNS CREEK, Ga. - After his dominating win at the U.S. Open, Rory McIlroy suddenly became everything to everyone: world-beating golfer, charming rogue, embodiment of an entire continent's hopes and dreams. So when he injured his wrist on Thursday and soldiered on, much of the European press took it as confirmation that, yes, Rory is truly the greatest golfer of our age. Heck with trying to carry his shots over water; Rory could just walk on it and chip away.
Friday dawned, and with it the cold hard fact that golf has been here since long before McIlroy arrived, and it'll be here long after he hangs up the sticks. McIlroy followed up his opening-round 70 with a considerably less spectacular three-over 73. And while he's almost certainly safe from the cut line, projected as he finished at +4, he's nonetheless almost surely out of contention for his second major of the year.
Sporting a tight wrapping on his wrist to protect his sprained tendons, McIlroy started ugly with a bogey on his first hole, the 10th, and didn't fare much better the rest of the round. He dunked his ball on the water-guarded 17th, leading to a triple-bogey that effectively killed his round and briefly left him two shots high of the cut line.
McIlroy's body language is never tough to read, and by the end of the round, he was disgusted with himself, at one point slapping at the sand after a bunker shot on 8, his 17th hole of the day. And as the afternoon wore on, his putts missed again and again by inside-the-leather distances.
The question thus became, did the wrist affect his touch on the greens? McIlroy indicated after the round that it was indeed a possibility: "My speed has been off all week, especially the last couple of days. Maybe [the injury affected him] a little bit. But to be honest I just don't feel that comfortable on these greens." He planned to spend more time putting later Friday afternoon.
And if this hadn't been a major? "Yeah, if it wasn't a major, I probably would have stopped yesterday," he said. Good on him for toughing it out, then, since it doesn't appear there will be much chance for long-term injury.
Assuming he makes the cut, McIlroy will tee off early Saturday morning, leaving plenty of time to rest that wrist for a Sunday charge.
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