- World's No. 1-ranked golfer is coming off an ankle injury
- Northern Irishman played nine holes at Whistling Straits
Rory McIlroy said he is fully recovered from an ankle injury and ready to compete in this week’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking, tested his surgically repaired left ankle Monday while playing nine holes on the undulating course in Kohler, Wisconsin. McIlroy has won two of the past three PGA Championships, including last year’s tournament at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky.
“To play golf, it’s 100 percent,” McIlroy told reporters on the 18th green after playing the course’s final nine holes. “To go back on a soccer pitch, it wouldn’t be quite ready, but to do what I need to do this week, it’s 100 percent.”
McIlroy, a 26-year-old Northern Irishman who injured his ankle while playing soccer with friends on July 4, then went to the practice range and putting green to continue his preparation for golf’s final major tournament of the year. He had spent the weekend at Whistling Straits and played briefly both days after spending a few days last week practicing at a course in Portugal.
“It feels good,” he said. “I’ve played quite a lot of golf since starting to hit balls (on July 28). I’ve been chipping and putting since basically this happened. I was putting in the boot. So I’ve kept that part of the game sharp.”
Because McIlroy said he pivots on his left foot, instead of rolling on its side when he swings, he said he isn’t concerned about making the injury worse by playing this week.
“It actually feels better when I go at it as hard as I want, because my left foot sort of spins out of the way whenever I hit the driver anyway,” he said. “It takes a lot of pressure off it.”
At Whistling Straits, which also hosted the PGA Championship in 2010, McIlroy will play the first two rounds with Masters and U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth, and British Open winner Zach Johnson. Spieth, golf’s No. 2-ranked player, can overtake McIlroy for the top spot with a win this week.
The trio is scheduled to begin the first round at 2:20 p.m. New York time on Aug. 13 and then tee off at 9:05 a.m. for the second round the following day.
McIlroy was unable to defend his British Open title last month and skipped this week’s World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio to give his ankle more time to recover.
McIlroy captured last year’s PGA Championship with a one-shot win for his fourth career major title, three weeks after winning the British Open. He also won the 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 PGA Championship.