As many suspected with the various emoji-coded social media posts from the world no. 1, Rory McIlroy will indeed attempt to defend his title at the PGA Championship. On Monday, McIlroy confirmed that he will return to competition at Whistling Straits, declaring himself “100% healthy.”
McIlroy’s recovery is quite speedy, particularly after enduring a pretty serious injury to his left ankle only five weeks ago. He ruptured a ligament during a friendly kickabout while playing football with friends in early July, which forced McIlroy to miss his title defenses at the Open Championship at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
“To play golf, it’s 100 percent,” McIlroy said of his ankle, according to ESPN.com. “To go back on a soccer pitch, it wouldn’t be quite ready. But to do what I need to do this week, it’s 100 percent.”
On Sunday he told Golf Channel that his ankle was a “non-issue.”
McIlroy arrived to the golf course on Saturday and played a practice round, where he was seen “scampering” up the hills of the rolling layout.
“It’s good. It’s good,” McIlroy told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “Obviously, getting around a golf course like this, playing 18 holes, it felt fine. It doesn’t feel … I mean, it’s good. I’ve come a long way in five weeks. This has been the five-week mark today from when I did it.
“I think maybe there’s just a little stiffness in the mornings, but it’s good.”
Despite the long respite from golf — McIlroy’s last start was the U.S. Open in June — he feels fit and ready to compete.
“The game is good,” he said. “I’ve been practicing for the last sort of week and a half. It’s coming together pretty well.”
When the PGA was last held at Whistling Straits in 2010, McIlroy was in contention coming down the stretch in the final round and finished only one shot out of the playoff between Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson and settled with a tie for third.
“Good to get a look at the course,” said McIlroy. Obviously, I have decent memories from five years ago. Yeah, good.”
It’ll be interesting to see how the week unfolds for McIlroy. It’s hard to have any expectations, especially since I thought he’d take the rest of the year off to recuperate his ankle, but at the same time, this is golf and you just never know how someone will react mentally and physically following a layoff. It’d be silly to count him completely out as he seems to strike just when you’ve about written him off for a moment due to a stretch of poor results.
McIlroy will tee it up in the first two rounds alongside Masters and U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth and Open champion Zach Johnson.