A trainer tapes the injured wrist of Rory McIlroy during the first round… (Hans Deryk / Reuters )
Reporting from Johns Creek, Ga. — Rory McIlroy first tried a cold water bottle, then ice packs in a towel. By the time he left Atlanta Athletic Club, his right hand was taped like an NFL free safety.
But he made it to the finish.
Hitting several shots nearly one-handed after hurting his wrist on a swing against a tree root, McIlroy cobbled together an even-par 70 Thursday to stay in the PGA Championship mix for at least a day.
"It was a good effort," said McIlroy, seven shots off Steve Stricker's pace but only four out of third.
An MRI exam after the round showed a strained tendon. A spokesman said McIlroy would test the wrist on the practice range Friday before his morning round.
"If I can strap it up and play again [Friday], I will," McIlroy said before being hustled off for the MRI.
After driving into the trees at No. 3, the 22-year-old found his ball a few inches behind a tree root. Rather than hitting a safe chip back to the fairway, he tried a daring play that had little margin for error.
"I thought if I could make contact with the ball and [quickly] let the club go, I might get away with it," he said. "I held onto the club too long."
Atlanta AC's 15th hole, the second-longest par three in a major championship at 253 yards, was the second-most difficult hole of the day (scoring average of 3.45).
"They wanted a driveable par four. They got it," joked Davis Love III.
Padraig Harrington didn't even try to hit the green. He left his tee shot short and left of the putting surface, then chipped within six feet of the cup before sinking the putt for a par.
While a worthy challenge for the world's best players, Phil Mickelson offered No. 15 as an example for why golf has had trouble holding on to participants.
"When you put water in front and a bunker in back and you give the player no vehicle to run a shot up, the member can't play," Mickelson said. "It's great for the championship, but it's not great for the membership."
Too close a shave
Course workers had to repair spots on two greens overnight after mowers inexplicably damaged the putting surfaces at Nos. 14 and 17.
After a morning examination, maintenance chief Ken Mangum still couldn't come up with an explanation. His best guess was that the humidity suddenly spiked, causing brushes on the mowers to catch on the damp grass.
"It would have been a lot easier [to explain] if I could have found something broken," he said. "It's a little like cutting yourself with a razor on your wedding day."
Adam Scott, whose first-round 62 at last week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational laid the foundation for a four-shot victory, had another solid start with a 69. A bogey/bogey finish kept him from being closer to the lead.
"I wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination," Scott said. "I just managed myself nicely around the course."
•Japan's Ryo Ishikawa, whose tie for fourth last week was his best finish on U.S. soil, suffered a rough change of fortune. Two bogeys, five double bogeys and a triple led to a 15-over-par 85.