Rory McIlroy to make early call on PGA title defence
The short-lived but tantalising prospect of Rory McIlroy playing a practice round at Whistling Straits, venue for next week's US PGA Championship, caused a flurry of calls to the PGA of America and McIlroy's management team yesterday.
Most observers expected - and many still do - that the final Major of the season will come too soon in McIlroy's rehabilitation from the ankle ligament rupture he suffered on July 4.
But the suggestion that he might be on the cusp of a return and could try playing 18 holes at Whistling Straits on Saturday raised hopes that the world No 1 and defending PGA champion might defy all the odds and tee it up tomorrow week.
Golf fans everywhere want to see McIlroy back healthy and ready to take on Jordan Spieth, winner of the Masters and the US Open, in a battle for a Major championship.
If that is to happen this week, McIlroy ain't telling anyone - at least not yet.
A spokesperson for the PGA of America, the organisers of the championship, said they had not been told if McIlroy would play at Whistling Straits at the weekend.
His spokesman, Sean O'Flaherty, repeated the message that has been consistent since McIlroy ruptured the anterior talofibular ligament of his left ankle while playing soccer with friends: namely, that the golfer is working through rehab, making good progress and taking each day at a time.
"Similar to all tournaments in recent weeks, Rory will give everyone an update on his progress well in advance of the tournament. Rehab takes time, so planning too far ahead is not realistic," he said.
McIlroy's last tournament was the US Open at Chambers Bay in June, in which he finished tied ninth.
Following the injury, he made an early announcement that he would have to miss the Open Championship at St Andrews, and last week revealed he was out of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which starts at Firestone tomorrow.
The enforced interruption to a season that had the makings of greatness followings his victories in the WGC-Cadillac Match Play and the Wells Fargo Championship in May must be hugely frustrating for McIlroy.
But much as golf wants and needs the Holywood star back in action and contending for titles, McIlroy must do all he can, and take as much time as is needed, to get the ankle as strong as possible.
A premature come back could have adverse consequences for McIlroy in the future.