The world’s top-ranked golfer and reigning British Open Champion Rory McIlroy tore his ATFL—the anterior talofibular ligament—in his left ankle while playing in a soccer “kickabout” on Saturday.
The ruptured ankle comes less than two weeks before the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews and most likely eliminates any chance for the Irish golfer to defend his title that he earned last year at Hoylake.
McIlroy posted a picture of himself on Instagram wearing a leg boot while steadying himself with crutches. “Continuing to assess extent of injury and treatment plan day by day,” he wrote. “Rehab already started…. Working hard to get back as soon as I can.”
The 26-year-old golf sensation has already won four majors, including the 2011 U.S. Open, the 2014 British Open, and the PGA Championship in 2012 and 2014. He plays as only one of 16 golfers in the sport’s history to have won three different majors.
Given his somber circumstances, nothing short of a miracle will allow McIlroy to tee it up in ten days at St. Andrews. The importance of having a strong lower body in golf is crucial. Good swing mechanics require a forceful shifting of all one’s weight on to the left leg to complete the golf motion.
A rupture of the ATFL could easily take three months to heal, jeopardizing the rest of McIlroy’s 2015 campaign. A sprained ankle, let alone a total rupture, may require six weeks to four months to rehab, according to WebMD.
ESPN reported that McIlroy spokesman, Sean O’Flaherty, said McIlroy would miss the Scottish Open, which starts Thursday at Gullane and CNN reported that a McIlroy spokeswoman said there is a “10% chance” he will play in the Open.
With a McIlroy showing dubious, 21-year old Jordan Spieth can make significant headway in toppling the beleaguered Irishman from the world’s number-one ranking by capturing the claret jug. Spieth has already won the first two majors of the year, the Masters and the U.S. Open. The Dallas Texas native has an opportunity to win all four majors in the same year—the Grand Slam—a feat accomplished only once in the history of the game by Bobby Jones.
Tiger Woods won all four majors consecutively—the Tiger Slam—but accomplished the feat over two seasons. According to a statistical and analytic website, the chances of Spieth winning all four majors is 1%.
“I’m just focused on the Claret Jug,” Spieth says. “I think the grand slam is something that I never could really fathom somebody doing…. I watched Tiger win when he was winning whatever percentage of the majors he played in. He won the ‘Tiger Slam’ but he never won the four in one year. And I figured if anybody was going to do it, it would be him, which he still can.”
The Guardian reported Spieth saying that after his win at the U.S. Open in June that, “Rory has four majors and dozens of wins and I’m just starting out. I’m certainly quite a bit younger than he is. I’m just happy to have this [title] and to be chasing that No1 spot which he holds. So I’m certainly focused on that.”