PGA blog: McIlroy shoots 74, 11 over for tourney

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, waits to hit on the 11th hole during the final round of the PGA Championship golf tournament Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011, at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga.

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, waits to hit on the 11th hole during the final round of the PGA Championship golf tournament Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011, at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga.

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Rory McIlroy’s PGA Championship came to a merciful end Sunday.

Now, it’s time to rest his ailing right wrist.

McIlroy, the U.S. Open champion, failed to break par in any of his four rounds at Atlanta Athletic Club, closing with a 4-over 74 to tie for 64th at 11-over 291.

In the final round, McIlroy mixed four birdies with five bogeys and a triple bogey (No. 3). For the week, he had seven three-putts.

The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland said he likely will take off until the European Tour’s Omega European Masters in Switzerland, on Sept. 1-4. On Saturday, he said: “I still want to win a few more events to make this season a success.”

McIlroy was diagnosed with a strained tendon in his right wrist on Thursday night. He initially was injured while hitting a tree root during the opening round, but was told by doctors that he could incur no further damage by continuing to play.

– Ryan Lavner

•••

Course a bit shorter on Sunday

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Atlanta Athletic Club will play to its shortest distance of the week on Sunday -- 7,236 yards.

Whether that produces more fireworks or flameouts remains to be seen.

“It’s not a Mickey Mouse course or anything,” said Sean O’Hair, “but the setup is a little bit questionable today.”

Among the notable setup changes for the final round of the PGA Championship: The par-4 sixth hole is drivable for the first time all week, at 289 yards; the par-5 12th, all the way back at 560 yards, may force more players to lay up short of the pond; the par-4 13th, at 359 yards with a severe left-to-right dogleg, no longer will tempt players to hit driver; the par-3 17th, now 160 yards, is the shortest it has played all week; and the oft-discussed 18th also is playing up a few tees, at 471 yards.

The changes to course setup would seem to be in response to the criticism that there will be more bogeys than birdies coming down the stretch -- which, in turn, would produce less excitement. (Unless you’re into that kind of carnage, U.S. Open-style.)

O’Hair wasn’t so sure that the changes made any difference to the way the course played. “I missed one green,” he said, “and shot even par.”

With the top of the leaderboard dotted with wide-eyed rookies and major-starved veterans, it will be fascinating to see how they handle the final few holes, which Steve Stricker, in solo fifth, said were “the toughest four-hole stretch we play all year, probably.”

The 18th hole, in particular, continues to be a point of controversy. O’Hair was among several players who suggested that the finishing hole would be better as a risk-reward par 5 instead of a brutish par 4. “That’d be more exciting for spectators,” he said.

Even at 471 yards, Ryan Moore (67) hit hybrid off 18 tee but was forced to lay up because he had 243 to the flag. “It almost takes 3-wood (off the tee) out of play,” he said. “They know it plays harder from up there.”

It is possible, Moore said, to hit driver off 18 tee and leave, say, a 7-iron into the green. “But you have to fit the tee shot in an 8-yard-wide fairway,” he said. “I was going for the percentages.”

In 2001, the last time the PGA was held at Atlanta Athletic Club, the 18th played 490 yards in the final round. With 209 to the hole, and staked to a one-shot lead, David Toms elected to lay up short of the pond that guards the green. He wedged on, then sank the par putt to edge Phil Mickelson by a shot.

Such a scenario could play out this evening, too.

As for the other setup changes for the final round, O’Hair said it was evident “they wanted to make sure there were more birdies out there,” but cautioned that a few of the pins were on ridges or “hogbacks,” which made it more difficult to put iron shots close. The temperatures Sunday aren’t as blistering -- a high of 89, instead of 94 -- but the wind has picked up a bit, blowing consistently at 15 mph.

“It definitely makes you think a little bit,” O’Hair said.

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