Rory McIlroy injury: Six key questions about world No 1
Last Updated: 04/08/15 10:58am
World No 1 Rory McIlroy's participation in next week's US PGA Championship and the rest of the PGA Tour season is still in major doubt after he ruptured his ATFL playing football. We look at some of the key questions about the world No 1's injury...
What is the ATFL?
It’s an acronym for the ‘anterior talofibular ligament’, which is one of the more commonly damaged ligaments on the outside of the ankle. Ligaments attach bones together and in the case of the ATFL it’s based at the top of the ankle joint, attaching the tibia (the front of the shin bone) with the talus (the front of the heel bone).
How severe is the injury?
McIlroy himself described the injury as a “total rupture", which is the highest severity of ligament injury. A tear is usually the result of a severe sprain, where the ankle is twisted violently.
Most cases are usually either a Grade I, which is where the ligament is strained, or a Grade II, when the ligament is partially torn, whereas the world No 1’s injury would be considered Grade III damage.
So how long does that rule Rory out for?
Recovery from injuries such as McIlroy’s can take several weeks or, in the worst cases, months and even require surgery. Scotland’s Richie Ramsay, who has previously suffered a similar injury, has warned it can take longer than expected to make a full recovery.
Could McIlroy play through the pain?
Even when able to walk unaided, the ankle will receive a huge amount of pressure, as it’s where weight is shifted towards while generating power as you swing.
Having said that, Tiger Woods’ last major victory came despite him battling a torn ligament in his left knee and a double stress fracture in his left leg, so don’t completely rule out McIlroy appearing just yet.
When will we see Rory next?
Having already pulled out of the Scottish Open and the 144th Open, McIlroy has also withdrawn from his bid to retain the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and US PGA Championship titles he claimed last year.
It's the start of a potentially busy spell in America with the conclusion of the PGA Tour season. Should he be sidelined long enough to be unable to feature at Whistling Straits next week, then the earliest we would be likely to see the Northern Irishman back in action would be The Barclays at the end of August.
And what about his world No 1 ranking?
McIlroy’s held the top spot since last August, but now seems set to miss out on a head-to-head rivalry with world No 2 Jordan Spieth over the remaining two majors of the summer.
Spieth has already closed the gap at the top of the rankings with two major wins this year and nine further top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, with McIlroy really only on the fringe of challenging at both Augusta and Chambers Bay.
If the American produces similarly strong displays at Firestone and at next week's PGA Championship, then McIlroy’s stint as world No 1 would come to an end