Mickelson and Spieth defend McIlroy

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Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth have backed Rory McIlroy’s decision to play football shortly before the defence of his Open title, revealing they have done far more dangerous things.

McIlroy is a major doubt for next week’s Open at St Andrews after rupturing an ankle ligament during a kickabout with friends last week, a decision which has been criticised in some quarters.

However, Mickelson recalled missing the 1994 Masters after a skiing accident, while Spieth’s recent fishing trip in the Bahamas ended with him battling to land a 300lb shark for two and a half hours.

“I can’t talk about that for the simple reason I did it myself,” Mickelson said ahead of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. “In ’94 I snapped my femur in half before the Masters.

“I said then, and I feel the same way now, you can’t live your life in fear. You have to enjoy the moment. I didn’t feel like anything he (McIlroy) was doing was unnecessary risk. He was just playing around and accidents happen.

“People get hurt taking a shower and doing normal day-to-day things. You can’t stop living your life. It’s unfortunate that it happened. Hopefully he’ll heal soon and be back at it. If he can’t play next week, certainly by the PGA I would hope [where McIlroy is also defending champion].”

Although Spieth admits he would probably not try skiing due to the chance of injury, he revealed on Tuesday he has no hesitation playing basketball with his caddie and also gave details of his eventful fishing trip after winning the US Open.

The world number two was initially trying to reel in a tuna as small sharks kept approaching to try to get the fish.

“The captain was scaring them off, banging on the boat and on the water,” Spieth told a press conference at the John Deere Classic. “And all of a sudden, it just rips back down again. And I almost got pulled in. And it was so much heavier.

“What surfaced was like a 12-foot long, 300lb black tip shark that had eaten this tuna and then had hooked itself, so I guess I caught both in one because I got that shark.

“I didn’t want to give up until I actually couldn’t move my arm any more. It was sore for a couple of days, but I’m good now.”