McIlroy suffers major ankle injury

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World number one Rory McIlroy’s participation at the Open at St Andrews is in jeopardy after suffering a serious ankle injury during a football “kickabout”.

McIlroy has revealed via his Instagram account, with an accompanying photograph showing him on crutches and wearing a protective boot, that he suffered a “total rupture” of a ligament at the weekend.

The 26-year-old is still to be fully assessed and has not yet ruled himself out of the Open, which begins on July 16, but his participation must be in serious doubt.

McIlroy wrote: “Total rupture of left ATFL (ankle ligament) and associated joint capsule damage in a 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.”

McIlroy, who won the Claret Jug at Royal Liverpool last year, was due to play in the Scottish Open at Gullane this week to fine-tune his preparations, but that now seems unlikely.

The Northern Irishman was the favourite for the title at St Andrews and much had been made of a potential rivalry with Jordan Spieth, who has risen to second in the world rankings after winning the year’s first two majors.

Paul McGinley, McIlroy’s captain at last year’s Ryder Cup, heard the news as he visited Wimbledon on Monday and expressed his disappointment at the prospect of McIlroy not featuring at the ’home of golf’.

McGinley said: “I’m sure he’ll be very disappointed. I’d like to find out a little bit more because sometimes these injuries can settle down very quickly. But it’ll be a blow not just for Rory but a blow for the game as a whole.

“He’s performed very well in the two majors so far this year. I know Jordan has taken all the plaudits in terms of winning but two top-10 finishes for Rory in the majors is a pretty good effort.

“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.”

McIlroy has not yet given details of the anticipated timescale of his recovery, although a spokesman for the player said he was not ruling out still playing at the Open.

Recovery from such injuries in athletes can typically take weeks or, in the worst cases, months or even require surgery. It is understood McIlroy will have further scans in the coming days and a full prognosis will become clear in due course.

Should he be sidelined and be out of action for more than a month, he could also be doubtful for next month’s US PGA Championship, the year’s final major and another title he currently holds.

McIlroy’s form heading into the Open had been reasonable, if not spectacular in terms of the majors. He finished four strokes behind Spieth at the Masters in April and five shots off the pace at the US Open at Chambers Bay last month.

Former Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance was taken by surprise by the news as he arrived at Wimbledon to watch the day’s action.

“That’s the first I’ve heard of it but I’m in complete shock: that’s a big blow to (the Open) if he misses it,” Torrance said.

“That’s obviously bad news and I’d just wish him all the best and hope he can make a quick recovery.”