JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- If you cringed, join the club.
Lee Westwood, a former world No. 1 and a fairly accomplished guy on the global golf stage to say the least, watch the replays of a certain somebody whacking a ball from beside a thick tree root and had the same reaction as most of us.
He blanched, he blinked.
"A 22-year-old Lee Westwood probably would have is taken it on, yeah," the veteran said. "A 38-year-old Lee Westwood probably wouldn't. I guess that's why people turn up to watch him, don't they?"
They left a bit disappointed on Friday afternoon.
Rory McIlroy, the aforementioned player at age 22, taped up his injured right wrist and forearm Friday and fought his way through a 3-over 73 that left him 10 shots off the lead as the afternoon wave of play began at the 93rd PGA Championship.
McIlroy hurt the wrist while trying to execute an admittedly reckless shot when his ball came to rest against a tree root in the first round, giving him a stinger in his forearm that almost precipitated his withdrawal. With several feet of tape wrapping the injury, McIlroy managed to gut his way through his second round, but he lost ground on the leaders.
After sleeping on it -- both the decision and the wrist -- McIlroy conceded that having a go at the shot wasn't the best idea he's ever had. That notion was seconded by about everybody who has seen the defending U.S. Open champion play and were concerned about his career being cut short by a fairly inconsequential stroke ... on the third hole of the first round.
"Looking back on it and how close the root was to the ball, it probably wasn't the right decision," he said Friday. "But I felt at the time that if I could make impact, let go of the club, I could have got it up somewhere around the green. In major championships, every shot counts, and that's all I was really thinking about."
The result of that thinking became the focal point of the tournament Friday morning.
With most of the eyeballs in Atlanta upon him, the reigning U.S. Open champion teed off at 8:35 a.m., despite having the ailing forearm taped from the wrist to a few inches below the elbow. McIlroy gulped down a few Alleve before the round provided by his trainer Cornell Driessen, and tried to improve on his opening-round 70.
Driessen said the MRI on McIlroy's arm showed strained tendons and flexor muscles, and some fluid buildup and that McIlroy was having trouble rotating his forearm, particularly in getting the club square at impact. Chandler said McIlroy was feeling the injury in his fingers.
"That's what they call a stinger," Driessen said.
McIlroy drew a huge crowd on the range at 8:07 a.m. when he began warming up. After a few tentative swings, he started getting loose and the issue didn’t seem to be affecting him much at all, though he was flexing his wrist and fingers between warmup shots.
"I think he's feeling a little bit better," said Gerry McIlroy, Rory's father, as he watched the proceedings.
Chandler said his MRI results were reviewed by a slew of medical experts in Atlanta and overseas and was told that by playing, he would be risking adding another week to the recovery period, Chandler said. That was good enough for McIlroy.
"As Rory said, there isn’t another major until April," Chandler said.
McIlroy sustained the injury with a reckless, and perhaps ill-advised, shot on the third hole of the first round, when his pulled tee shot came to rest against a tree root. He bent his 7-iron while bashing the shot out toward the fairway, prompting analysts to second-guess the decision.
Plenty of golf careers have been wrecked by wrist injuries in similar situations, and the tournament wasn't exactly on the line on the third hole of the Thursday round. Even J.P. Fitzgerald came under fire for not calling McIlroy off the shot, a criticism that drew laughter from Chandler. He called the caddie criticism, "bullsh*t."
"He doesn’t listen to anybody," Chandler said.
Chandler ought to know. Against Chandler's advice, McIlroy has twice elected to take up his PGA Tour card, including a move back to membership on the U.S. tour for the 2012 season.
Later in the first round, after McIlroy had driven his ball on the 12th hole into a depression in the dirt, Driessen and Fitzgerald advised him not to hit the shot because he might be risking further injury.
"All we could pick up was Rory has his back to the physio, the physio told Rory 'no,' Rory turned his head and shrugged," PGA rules official David Price said afterward. "Then he turned back around, grabbed a club and hit the shot anyway."
Chandler declined to second-guess his client's course management and decision-making on the course, though the shot against the tree root could have been career-altering.
"If he thinks he can do it, he'll have a go," Chandler said.
McIlroy was asked after the second round about flack that Fitzgerald was taking from media and got downright defensive.
"He's my caddie, not my father," McIlroy shot back.
All in all, McIlroy said the most painful part of the day wasn't his injury -- it was the pain and suffering administered by his putter. He had a trio of three-jacks.
"Even with a broken arm I should be putting better than this," McIlroy cracked.
All in all, McIlroy's swing wasn't too badly affected -- he had some trouble rotating through the hitting zone -- but it wasn't anything he couldn’t handle.
"It's more uncomfortable instead of painful," McIlroy said.
That doesn’t mean there wasn't plenty of doubt and concern when he really let it rip early in the round.
"It's always in the back of your minds and you're always trying to protect it in some way in the subconscious," he said. "So even if you are going after one halfway down on the downswing, you're like, 'oh, maybe not.'"
If only he'd had that thought when the ball was against the root, right?
"Yeah, it's frustrating but hopefully I can get a bit of treatment on it tonight," he said. "Hopefully it will feel a little better tomorrow."