Rory McIlroy, playing with a bandaged forearm, struggled to a three-over-par 73 in Friday's second round of the PGA Championship, leaving him 10 strokes behind overnight leader Steve Stricker.

U.S. Open champion McIlroy hurt his wrist on the third hole Thursday and played through pain to finish at even par with his participation in the tournament in doubt.

However, he looked more comfortable as he dealt with the challenging Highland course at Atlanta Athletic Club on Friday.

"It was probably tougher mentally more than anything else, trying to get it out of your mind," said McIlroy after a round of three birdies, three bogeys and a triple-bogey on the 17th.

The Northern Irishman underwent an MRI scan Thursday that showed he had strained a tendon in his right wrist and had said he would wait till the morning before deciding whether to continue at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

"If it wasn't a major, I probably would have stopped yesterday," said McIlroy.

McIlroy walked on to the practice range just 25 minutes before his tee time with tight strapping around his wrist and lower arm and a bandage up the length of his forearm.

The 22-year-old's appeal was evident from the six television cameras that followed his every move on the range and from the warm welcome he received from the gallery as he teed off on the 10th tee.

McIlroy drove sweetly down the center of the fairway as he began his attempt to catch up with first-round leader Stricker, who held a two-shot lead after shooting a 63 Thursday.

There was an early setback to that bid, though, when McIlroy bogeyed his opening hole with a three-putt but a birdie on the 12th was followed by another on the 16th where he sank a 45-footer to the delight of his fans.

STRONG PUSH

However, the Highland layout is well known for bringing players swiftly down to earth and McIlroy's hopes of making a strong push Friday were dealt a serious blow when he found water off the tee on 17 and three-putted for a triple-bogey.

On the front nine, McIlroy bogeyed the third and eighth while getting a birdie on the sixth but he missed a couple of key short putts that could have left him in a stronger position.

The main early mover Friday was 34-year-old American D.A. Points, who carded a three-under-par 67 for a four-under total of 136, three strokes behind the pacesetting Stricker.

Europe's main challenge to Stricker came from Dane Anders Hansen, who posted a tidy one-under-par 69 to finish at three under overall.

"I thought I played solid today," said Hansen. "I hit 16 greens and I putted decently. The course is set up very, very tough today. They stuck the pins in the corners and made it difficult to hit, it really, really close.

The Dane felt the challenging course setup meant it would be hard for any player to repeat Stricker's 63.

"If someone shoots seven under today, I think that will be amazing," he said.

Former world No. 1 Tiger Woods, who staggered to a 77 Thursday, began his attempt to avoid the cut among the day's late starters.

Among those looking likely to make a Friday farewell were defending champion Martin Kaymer of Germany, who finished at five over, along with Australian Jason Day, who after being on the fringe of contention fell apart on his back nine.

American Brandt Snedeker was handed a two-stroke penalty for being late for his time on the first tee.

Americans J.B. Holmes (illness) and Rocco Mediate (injury) withdrew from the tournament Friday, along with South African Retief Goosen (illness).

(Reuters)