Rory McIlroy was left wishing he could have one shot again after a second-round 73 at the USPGA Championship in Atlanta today.
However, that shot is not the moment he injured his right arm against a tree root on day one.
Instead, it was his six-iron tee shot to the short 17th on his return to the course.
Suffering from a strained tendon and thankfully nothing more serious, the 22-year-old US Open champion – his arm still bandaged – had moved only two strokes off the lead when he came to his eighth hole of the day.
It came up short in the lake and, by three-putting for a triple bogey six, McIlroy’s hopes of a second major title this season suffered a huge blow.
“Even with a broken wrist I should be putting better than this,” he said.
After signing for a three-over halfway total of 143, he was 10 adrift of American Steve Stricker, who had still to tee off again following his major record-equalling 63.
“Yesterday there were a couple of points where I thought it might have been better to walk in,” McIlroy said.
“But I wanted to play through and I felt like I’m hitting the ball okay.
“When I woke up this morning (after a hospital scan revealed no tear) it was stiff, but it wasn’t as painful.”
He warmed up on the range and practice putting green for only 25 minutes rather than his usual hour or more, but was never in doubt he could continue the last major of the year.
On his triple bogey, he said: “I was between six and seven-iron (a new club sent from California overnight after he broke his original against the tree root) and I ended up going with six, but the wind affected it a little more than I wanted it to.”
On the shot that had damaged his arm, meanwhile, McIlroy commented: “Hindsight is a great thing, but looking back it was a mistake in judgment. I thought I would be able to get away with it.”
The world number four was also asked if caddie JP Fitzgerald should have prevented him from hitting the shot.
“He’s my caddie, not my father!” he replied.
McIlroy had to wait to see how far off the lead he would be going into the weekend, but stated: “I feel as if I can make birdies out there.
“If I don’t think I could contend I probably wouldn’t be playing. And if it wasn’t a major I probably would have stopped yesterday.”
Stablemate and world number two Lee Westwood’s pursuit of a fifth major – this is the 55th of his career – was very much still alive after a 68 brought him to one under and joint 15th place midway through another hot day.
The Worksop golfer looked exhausted as he finished a slow round, but when asked about the speed of play quipped: “The last thing I wanted today was to move quicker!”
He went into the tournament vowing to try less in the hope that it would pay dividends.
“It’s hard,” he added. “It’s difficult to try your hardest and not care about the results. They contradict one another.
“But I’m breezing around out there and trying to smile whenever I can and not really worry about what’s going on too much.
“I think that’s why after bogeying two and three I came back with birdies on four and five (and seven). Maybe the ’trying too hard’ me would have bogeyed the next after that.”
Westwood had also been in the water on the 457-yard 11th, his second, but got out of it with a bogey and was satisfied with his day’s work in the end.
He had teed off yesterday with Stricker having already posted his 63.
“When you see seven under is leading your are under pressure,” said Westwood.
“But I said at the start of the week that I thought six under was going to win and it might still.”
McIlroy was playing with Open champion Darren Clarke, who did not have a single birdie in rounds of 78 and 76 that added up to 14 over.
“I’m done,” he said after he looked ahead to going on holiday. “I won’t look at my clubs for 10 days. I’m just shattered.”
Britain's Simon Dyson, another member of the stable, was as high as fourth after a birdie on the seventh, but the Irish Open champion double-bogeyed the eighth and 11th and finished with a 72 for level par.
As for Tiger Woods, needing a sub-par score in all probability to make the cut after his initial 77, he parred the first three holes, including the second after driving into the trees.
Justin Rose managed only a 74 for five over and had to wait to see if that was good enough, as did defending champion Martin Kaymer (73), while England’s David Horsey’s 77 dropped him to nine over and Graeme McDowell’s 78 left last year’s US Open champion down on 12 over.
There looked to be a significant move being made by Australian Adam Scott, winner of last week’s world championship. He birdied three of the first five to climb to four under and joint third with clubhouse leader DA Points as Stricker parred the first hole to remain two in front of his fellow Wisconsin golfer Jerry Kelly.