Of course the trouble with everyone telling you that, actually, you are Wonderboy is that you end up thinking you can fly. Or, as in Rory’s case in Atlanta, that the normal rules of cause and effect do not apply to you.
How else to explain one of the daftest decisions I have ever seen a golfer take on the course. That root was as thick as an elephant’s trunk, McIlroy’s attempt to hit his ball while flipping the club over the wood and then letting go of it was a trick never worth attempting. He knows that now and he’ll never do it again.
Maybe it was the heat. PGA Championships always seem to be sited in the sweatiest parts of the United States. This is sauna golf and as the temperature hit way over 100 degrees everyone wilted a bit, especially Darren Clarke’s shirt.
But what a day. Tiger Woods, having talked himself up before the action began, tripped himself up over this fabulous course. Whatever else Tiger now knows, he must realise that he is a shadow of his former self. I began the year insisting he would return to the top of this perverse game but now I’m not so sure.
In between Rory and Tiger, Steve ‘Interesting’ Stricker put together a round as low as anyone ever has shot in a Major and in classic Stricker style, managed to make this feat appear rather dull. According to Sky analyst Butch Harmon, the American is not fabulous at any single part of the game just very good at them all. A bit like a young Bruce Forsyth then except, to be fair, funnier.
The events of this opening day challenged the Sky commentary team, forcing them to come up with some new adjectives to describe the action at this championship. This bunch of gnarled, old pros – the one exception being Bruce Critchley, of course, who is a gnarled, old amateur – normally doze along, Harmon leading the way by stating the bleeding obvious while making it clear he thinks he is the only one to have thought of it. “Great golf shot, ” is his catchphrase and he didn’t let us down last night, using this irritating phrase repeatedly.
The McIlroy trunk incident allowed the commentary team to hold an immediate emergency meeting. Not quite COBRA but probably as interesting. To a man they urged Rory to stop play, to think of his career, his future, their jobs if this wrist injury forced Boy Wonder out of golf altogether. There was a lot at stake last night and panic was whispering everywhere.
No-one got this better than Monty. Forced by Sky’s producers to dress as though attending an undertakers’ convention despite the searing heat, Colin tried his best to talk sense in his newish role as an analyst and not for the first time failed spectacularly.
At one point, criticising McIlroy’s youthful decision to go for broke, he spiralled around the English language before talking about Rory’s “sense of sensibilities”. Monty a closet Jane Austen fan? Very much so it would appear, very, very, very much so. Roll on tonight.