A right wrist injury to Rory McIlroy, the pre-tournament favourite on BETDAQ, added to the drama of an opening day at the USPGA Championship which also saw Tiger Woods slump to his worst-ever opening round in a major and Steve Stricker fire a record-equalling 63.
McIlroy was battling on with a bandaged arm after hurting himself by striking a club against a tree root on Atlanta Athletic Club’s third hole.
Remarkably he managed a level-par 70 to be inside the top 30 before being taken to hospital for a scan.
Woods, though, was outside the top 125 in the 156-strong field after a seven-over 77, his worst first round in any tournament since a 79 at the 1996 Australian Open.
Nobody, least of all the 14-major winner himself, was expecting it after he birdied three of his first five holes and shared the lead, but then came three double bogeys and five bogeys.
Woods went in two lakes and no fewer than 12 bunkers as his game fell apart.
“I’m not down, I’m really angry,” Woods said after his first major round since finishing fourth at The Masters in April. He missed the last two through injury, of course.
“There are a lot of words I could use beyond that.”
What made him furious was that over the opening stretch he had focused on swing thoughts, but had then abandoned that to “let it go” and could not regroup.
Stricker’s seven birdies, in stark contrast, came at holes which included the 15th and 18th, two of the three that Woods double-bogeyed.
He started on the back nine and was already seven under after 14 holes of his round, but parred his way in from there, missing a 12-foot chance on the 426-yard ninth and so instead of becoming the first to shoot 62 in majors he joined a list of 22 other players to have 63. Greg Norman and Vijay Singh have done it twice.
Stricker led by two from Jerry Kelly and by three from their fellow American Shaun Micheel, winner in 2003.
On the putt to break the record, the 44-year-old, yet to win a major, said: “Sometimes when you know it’s for something extra special you dig a little deeper, but I can’t complain.
“I realised it was for 62, but I didn’t realise it was for history.
“Just to hit it on the fairways was my goal for the day. It’s a very difficult course from the bunkers and rough.”
The leading Europeans were England’s Simon Dyson, 18-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero and Dane Anders Hansen with 68s, while world number one Luke Donald matched McIlroy’s 70 and world number one Lee Westwood was one further back.
The day had begun so well for Woods. He holed from 14 feet on the 10th, got up and down from a bunker at the long 12th and then struck a superb approach to four feet two holes later.
But the story started to changed on the 15th, a controversial 260-yard par three with water right.
Woods found the lake, took five like Donald had just ahead of him and then dropped another shot at the next after going from bunker to rough and then into more sand.
He was in two more bunkers on the 18th for a double bogey and his other six came when he went from sand into water at the 425-yard sixth.
“I figured I could let it go and play through instinct and feel, but screwed up the whole round,” Woods commented. “I’m not at that point yet. I started fighting it and couldn’t get it back. It’s very frustrating.”
He still did eight strokes better than Japanese teenager Ryo Ishikawa, who four days after finishing fourth at the world championship in Akron crumbed to a 15-over round of 85 containing a triple-bogey six on the 15th and five double bogeys.
Londoner Brian Davis shot 69, Ross Fisher 71 like Justin Rose and Westwood after being four under early on, Paul Casey and David Horsey 72, Martin Laird and Padraig Harrington 73, Ian Poulter and Stephen Gallacher 74 and Jamie Donaldson 77 in his first major round in America.
Worst of the Europeans on 78 were Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal and Open champion Darren Clarke.
Last week in Akron, Clarke started with a 77, but there was no cut there. This time there is and he, like Woods, need a miracle to be among the top 70 and ties who go through tomorrow night.
Westwood birdied the last, but thought it was going to be a double bogey.
“Seriously I did turn a six into a three. I pulled it down the left, landed on the wall (of the lake) and it shot out to the fairway,” Westwood said.
“I wasn’t flawless today, but it was pretty good. I think I’ve just got to be patient.”