Friday 20 July 2018

Tiger casts doubts over McIlroy's return

Tiger Woods hits out of a bunker during a practice round at Whistling Straits yesterday
Tiger Woods hits out of a bunker during a practice round at Whistling Straits yesterday

James Corrigan

Tiger Woods has a few warnings for Rory McIlroy and they run contrary to the world No 1's claim that he is "100 per cent" healthy as he returns to competitive action for the first time in almost two months.

Woods believes McIlroy will have to play through the pain barrier if he is to win his fifth major at the 97th US PGA Championship, which starts tomorrow.

He also raised the prospect of it being merely a question of time before the Irishman requires an operation on the left ankle in which he ruptured a ligament during a friendly kickabout the week before the British Open.

Many, including Colin Montgomerie and leading coach Butch Harmon, have expressed shock at the speed of McIlroy's comeback.

Woods said he was not surprised, but relating it to his own experience of returning from injuries, spelt out the challenges for McIlroy - not just here but in the future.

"It's a matter of how long is he going to have to go with it like this? Or is he going to have it surgically repaired?" Woods said.

"As far as his talent and being able to play golf, that's not going to be the problem; he understands how to play. It's a matter of physically can he do it? I've had injuries where I blew out my knee and played for a good nine months before I had it fixed."

McIlroy seems to believe that he will not need to go under the knife; either in the short or long term.

Under fitness adviser Steve McGregor, who is something of an expert with ankle injuries, having worked with Premier League teams Manchester City and Aston Villa, as well as the NBA's New York Knicks - McIlroy has built up the muscles to strengthen the joint.

He has shown no ill-effects in his four days of practice and has been seen jogging up some of the hillocks on this undulating major course. © Daily Telegraph, London

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