JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – As Rory McIlroy ran the gauntlet of interviews following his second-round 73 behind the grandiose clubhouse at Atlanta Athletic Club – stopping for visits with CBS, TNT, Sky Television and XM Radio en route to one more mass interview session with the ink-stained print hacks – there definitely was a single word that emerged as his theme.
“Frustrating.” He’d say it again and again. “I feel as though I could have played a little better. I definitely could have putted better.”
McIlroy, who seemed on the verge of withdrawing from the event a day earlier, appeared far less bothered on Friday by what an MRI determined to be a “strained tendon” in his right wrist. His right arm was taped from his elbow to his wrist, stabilizing the injury he’d sustained a day earlier when he struck a root with a 7-iron in the woods at No. 3, and unlike Thursday, he was able to keep two hands on the golf club during his followthrough.
Far more bothersome to him was a triple-bogey at the par-3 17th hole (his eighth of the day) that took him from 2 under par for the tournament to 1 over; suddenly he was a man scrambling to make sure he’d stick around for the weekend. At 3-over 143 (70-73), he’ll safely do that.
Tee markers at 17 were set at 211 yards, and caught between clubs, McIlroy chose to take something off a 6-iron and hold it against the wind. But his shot started left of the flag and the wind stood it up, and it never made it over the water that fronts the green. Compounding matters, he’d also three-putt the hole, one of “3 or 4” three-putts he had in the round.
Though his forearm was wrapped and strained, he refused to blame his poor touch on the greens entirely on that.
“My speed has been off all week, especially the last couple of days. .”. . . To be honest, I just don’t feel that comfortable on these greens,” he said.
McIlroy underwent X-rays and an MRI on Thursday evening that showed he’d strained a tendon in his right wrist. He said he likely wouldn’t be playing this week if the event weren’t a major, and said he’d be taking time off the next few weeks to begin his recovery.
Hindsight being what it is, McIlroy, who at age 22 has a boundless future, also acknowledged he should have withdrawn once he got hurt on Thursday.
“It was a mistake in judgement,” he said. “I thought I would be able to get away with it, let go of the club at impact, and hopefully it would be okay.”