The Open is teeing off... but Rory's nursing sore ankle in children's pool
The day before world number one Rory McIlroy should have been leading the field at the 'home of golf' at St Andrew's, he was instead nursing his injured ankle in the children's section of his local health club pool.
The star golfer was spotted yesterday sporting a discreet ankle support as he left the Virgin Health Club just outside Holywood, Co Down, where it was reported he was using the pool, undoubtedly to try and hasten his rehabilitation.
The four-time major winner suffered a "total rupture" of the anterior talofibular ligament in his left ankle while playing football with friends last month, leading to him missing out on The Open - starting today in Scotland - where he was due to defend his title.
The 26-year-old is absent from the course where he carded an opening 63 - the lowest round in Open history - in 2010.
The injury has been described by pundits as the biggest disappointment of his career to date.
Rory also runs the risk of losing his number one standing if young US star Jordan Spieth wins the competition.
Customers of the health club were delighted to see McIlroy relaxing in the children's part of the pool, which is sectioned off from the centre's main pool in an area also featuring a jacuzzi and steam room. Staff at the centre declined to comment on their famous visitor.
Meanwhile, other golfing greats were preparing for tee-off having expressed their sympathy for McIlroy.
Nick Faldo recently said he feared the young golfer may never be the same again.
Faldo, himself a three-time Open winner, including at St Andrew's, said the Northern Ireland golfer had only himself to blame, but admitted it was "tough" missing out on such a top tournament.
Faldo said he had to turn down going skiing with his family for fear of hurting himself.
"My kids wanted me to go skiing and I was being tempted to try it.
"I said, 'I can't risk it' because they can't necessarily put your wrist or elbow back in the same place.
"That is the problem and it is a tough one for Rory.
"He has to wait until it is 100pc better before he can start doing anything and start practising on it."