WORLD No 1 Rory McIlroy has revealed that he has ruptured ligaments in his left ankle during a football kickabout.
McIlroy announced the news via Twitter, with an accompanying photograph on Instagram showing himself on crutches and wearing a protective boot.
The news comes less than a fortnight after McIlroy was due to defend his Open Championship title, although the Northern Irishman has not yet ruled himself out of the event at St Andrews.
McIlroy tweeted: “Total rupture of left ATFL (ankle ligament) and associated joint capsule damage in a soccer kickabout with friends on Saturday. Continuing to assess extent of injury and treatment plan day by day. Rehab already started..... Working hard to get back as soon as I can.”
McIlroy was also due to play in the Scottish Open this week to fine-tune his preparations for St Andrews but his participation in both must now be in serious doubt.
The 26-year-old won the Open at Royal Liverpool last year before going on to win another major title, his fourth, at the US PGA Championship.
Recovery from injuries such as the one reported by McIlroy can take weeks or, in the worst cases, months and even require surgery. McIlroy has as yet given no details on the anticipated timescale for his recovery.
Should he be sidelined and be out of action for more than a month, he could be unable to defend his title at the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which begins on August 13.
McIlroy has been only on the fringes of challenging at this year’s majors, both won by Jordan Spieth. At the Masters in April he finished four strokes back while he finished tied ninth, five shots off the pace, at last month’s US Open at Chambers Bay despite a final-round 66.
Much has been made of a potential rivalry with 21-year-old Spieth, who has risen to number two in the rankings, but the injury could prevent any head-to-head meetings in the remaining two majors of the summer.