SHEBOYGAN, Wis. - The day was a success on a number of levels for Rory McIlroy. The ankle that had kept him out of competition since June held up just fine. Plus, it stayed dry.
The defending PGA Championship winner tiptoed into Lake Michigan Thursday and hit a shot out of the water on Whistling Straits' fifth hole, rather than take a penalty stroke. He rolled up his right pant leg, took a swing, put the shot within 10 feet and saved par in his first round back after extensive rehabilitation on his left ankle, which was carefully taped.
"The only thing I was trying not to do was get my feet wet," he said after having shot 1-under-par 71. "Because if the water gets through this shoe, then the tape gets wet and that would be a little more than just sort of annoying or uncomfortable for the rest of the day.
"It was a little bit deeper on the right side so I just rolled my right trouser leg up and it was fine," he said. "I just had to remember to hit it hard."
Phil discounts story
Phil Mickelson was asked about a Wall Street Journal story this week that mentioned him as part of an insider-trading investigation. He said, "I know how inaccurate so much of that stuff is that I'm not worried."
Polland, Dobyns shoot 76
Deepdale Golf Club assistant pro Ben Polland, playing in his first major, went 5-over through his first four holes, but made the national telecast for chipping in for birdie on his fifth (No. 14). He played the rest of the round in par, finished at 4-over-par 76 and left feeling he still has a chance to make the cut.
He conceded that nerves were involved at the start, playing before his parents, two sisters and many extended family members. "The only way you can get used to it is to do it. There's no other way to prepare for it," he said. "I definitely feel the front nine could have been a lot lower. I missed some easy putts. I think there are some low scores out there. I feel I can shoot a good number tomorrow."
Matt Dobyns, head pro at Fresh Meadow Country Club, also shot 76 and is optimistic. "Today's round could have fallen apart completely," he said. "It didn't. I'm going to try and shoot an under-par round tomorrow and sneak in."