ST. LOUIS – Troy Merritt arrived on the range for the first round of the PGA Championship on Thursday about an hour before his tee time and slowly began something approaching his normal warm-up.
Less than a week removed from emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from his left arm, Merritt still wasn’t sure if he’d be able to play the year’s final major. His practice had been severely limited because of swelling in his left arm and he hadn’t played a single hole at Bellerive all week.
But as his tee time approached, the rush of competition settled in. He teed off, made par at the first and by the time he reached the turn at 1 under par he felt like a new man.
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Although Merritt stumbled late in his round with bogeys at three of his final six holes, his first-round 71 left him tied for 61st and on pace to play the weekend.
“I made it through the round with minimal pain,” Merritt told GolfChannel.com via text message. “It’s been sore this afternoon; ice and rest. It felt good to be back out on the golf course. I’m pretty satisfied with the results, and am looking forward to getting out again tomorrow afternoon.”
As part of his recovery, Merritt is having to give himself two shots a day for his blood-thinner treatments, and he played the opening round with a compression sleeve on his left arm to keep the swelling down.