JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- Would this have been adding insult to injury, or injury to insult?
Two hours after sustaining a painful wrist injury that required on-course medical attention, Rory McIlroy had a conversation with a trainer before a shot that resulted in an inquiry into whether he violated a rule at the 93rd PGA Championship.
Early in the day, the reigning U.S. Open champion hit a risky shot while his ball was resting against a tree root on the third hole, his hands flying off the club, which spun through the air on his follow-through as he let go of the grip. Because of the impact of his club against the root, McIlroy injured his right forearm, which was stretched and treated for several minutes by physio Cornell Driessen, who was called to the scene. McIlroy had the injury taped, and continued to play his round.
On his back nine, McIlroy hit a tee shot into the trees on the 12th hole and found his ball sitting in approximately a six-inch depression in the soil. There was an exchange between McIlroy and the trainer, who was seen on the TNT television feed shaking his head and talking to the world No. 4.
A television viewer phoned the PGA of America at Atlanta Athletic Club and said he believed McIlroy had broken a rule barring outside advice. The caller didn't leave his name or explain himself very clearly and the issue wasn't immmediately investigated.
After several viewers raised the question of a possible violation on Twitter, the PGA's top tournament official, Kerry Haigh, viewed the exchange on a video-tape replay in a TV truck.
By the time McIlroy finished his round, PGA rules official David Price was waiting in the scoring trailer. If the name sounds at all familiar, it's because Price was the man who broke the news to Duston Johnson that he had committed a violation on the 72nd hole of the PGA that cost him a spot in a playoff for the title..
Not a guy you want to see lurking after the round with a stern look on his face and a rulebook in hand.
Ultimately, no penalty was assessed. The PGA reviewed the replay and determined that the advice was unsolicited and did not materially impact the way McIlroy played the shot, either.
"It was a casual comment," Price said. "In order for it to be advice, he would have to have asked for it. It didn't affect the way he played the shot."
Price said they listed to the audio playback, too.
"All we could pick up was Rory has his back to the physio, the physio told Rory 'no,' Rory turned his head and shrugged. Then he turned back around, grabbed a club and hit the shot anyway.
"Essentially, it was a casual comment meant to avoid injury."
McIlroy had a similarly confusing rules issue three years ago at the Masters, where tournament officials had to decide whether he had improperly tested the sand while smoothing out his footprints in a bunker at Augusta National. Ultimately, officials elected not to assess a penalty, which likely would have resulted in a disqualification because McIlroy had already signed his scorecard.
McIlroy gutted out an even-par 70 and said Friday's second round is a wait-and-see proposition depending on how his arm feels and the follow-up exam goes.
"As I said, it's a very important tournament, and I'm still even par," McIlroy said. "I'm still in the hunt. So we'll see what the results are tonight, and if I can strap it up and play again tomorrow, I will."