BELOW par Rory McIlroy is missing out on defending his Open title at St Andrews next week after suffering what could potentially be a serious ankle injury - during a game of footie!
Holywood’s four times Major winner and the world number one golfer was one of the favourites to lift the world famous Claret Jug which he clinched for the first time last year at Royal Liverpool.
However, a game of soccer with his pals last weekend appears to have put that defence in considerable doubt if the injury turns out to be as bad as initially feared.
Rory’s plight emerged on Monday when he used his Instagram account to reveal that he had injured his all important left ankle during a soccer game with his chums.
The announcement that none of his legions of fans around the world wanted to hear was accompanied by a photo of him on crutches with a walking boot on his left ankle.
As a right handed golfer that ankle plays a pivotal role in his swing as he not only rotates largely on his left foot but transfers his weight to it as he hits the ball and stretches it as he follows through after the stroke.
But the message, just over a week ahead of the July 16 start of the Open, certainly raises serious doubts about whether any of that will be possible within the coming days.
Rory said, “Total rupture of left ATFL (ankle ligament) and associated joint capsule damage in soccer kickabout with friends on Saturday.
“Continuing to assess extent of injury and treatment plan day by day. Rehab already started. Working hard to get back as soon as I can.”
However, Rory gave no indication of just what his expected recovery time might be, which has led to the flurry of speculation about his prospects of participating in next week’s Open.
Questions are also being asked about the possibility of Holywood’s most famous son playing in the final Major of the year, the US PGA in August, which he also won last year.
Recovery from the type of injury Rory has suffered, the experts say, can take anything from weeks to months and in the worst possible cases can even require surgery.
It is believed that Rory has already been undergoing tests in a bid to establish the full extent of his injury in addition to the constant supervision he is under from his personal fitness expert and sports scientist.
The only definite development so far is that Rory will not be featuring in this weekend’s Scottish Open which takes place in East Lothian.
Meanwhile Rory has received a lot of sympathy from his fellow professional golfers for the predicament he now finds himself in ahead of one of the biggest golf tournaments in the world.
Last year’s Ryder Cup Captain, Paul McGinley said, “I know St Andrews is a golf course he really loves and a golf course that really suits his game. It’s a shame, a shame for the tournament and a shame for Rory if that’s the case.”
Sergio Garcia added in a tweet that he was saddened to hear about Rory’s injury and wished him a swift recovery back to full fitness and health.