Rory McIlroy has sent up a major flare and hope is alive for golf fans alike who wanted to see the world no. 1 defend his title at the PGA Championship next week at Whistling Straits.
Following an ankle injury early last month, McIlroy was questionable for the fourth and final major of the season, and while his status still remains up in the air, he has scheduled a practice round on Saturday at the venue, according to a report by Reuters.
McIlroy’s manager Sean O’Flaherty did not respond to a Reuters request for comment (nor to a text message from WUP). An employee at Whistling Straits told the wire service that he was not at liberty to comment on competitors’ practice rounds ahead of the tournament.
However, this is the first indication of any sort that McIlroy will attempt to return to competitive golf, and from what we can gather, Saturday’s round will be a test run to see if his left ankle can hold up to the stress of the swing.
The world no. 1 withdrew from this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which he also won last year. Last month, he was forced to pull out of the Scottish Open and the Open Championship since they both occurred shortly after his freak injury.
McIlroy’s no. 1 world ranking is in jeopardy, with the way Masters and U.S. Open champ Jordan Spieth has been playing as of late. With a victory this week at Firestone, Spieth can overtake McIlroy in the rankings and supplant him as the no. 1 player on the planet.
When the PGA was last held at Whistling Straits in 2010, McIlroy finished one shot out of the playoff between Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson.
Some medical experts have been cited as saying that McIlroy’s injury normally takes up to 12 weeks to heal. (From personal experience, this is accurate and left ankle injuries aren’t something to be taken lightly or else it can haunt you for a lifetime.)
McIlroy announced he had hurt himself over the weekend of July 4th during a kickabout with friends in Northern Ireland, which was about five weeks ago. If he were to return back to competition for the PGA, it would be a surprise for many who thought he was done for the season given the extent — or knowledge/information provided to the public — of the injury.