LOS ANGELES (AFP/REUTERS) - World No. 1 Rory McIlroy is set to return from injury at next week’s PGA Championship after being scheduled to tee off in the first round, the PGA of America said Friday.
The PGA said on Twitter that defending champion McIlroy had been grouped with US Open and Masters champion Jordan Spieth and British Open winner Zach Johnson for the opening round next Thursday at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.
McIlroy later re-tweeted the PGA of America’s tweet.
McIlroy, who hasn’t played since suffering ankle ligament damage while playing football with friends on July 4, had fanned speculation he would play the final major of the year with a series of social media posts in recent days.
He looked to be on the road to recovery in pictures and videos posted this week, which showed him working out in the gym and hitting a driver.
On Friday, the 26-year-old posted a picture that appeared to show the inside of a private plane, along with emojis depicting an aeroplane, US flag, a thumbs-up sign, a victory sign and a golf flag.
McIlroy has been practising in Portugal over the past few days and has been using social networking sites to post several teasing updates about his recovery from the injury.
On Thursday, the 26-year-old posted on his Instagram account a video of himself pounding a driver on the practice range, accompanied by the comment: "Feels good to hit the driver again!"
He also posted two pictures of his left foot, the first showing a very swollen ankle soon after he had suffered the injury and the second revealing a bruised but greatly improved ankle.
"4 and a half and 3 and a half weeks ago respectively... I've come a long way since," McIlroy tweeted.
The world No. 1 had been listed in the field for the PGA Championship, the year's fourth and final major, which will be played next week at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin.
McIlroy, a four-times major champion, does not have to commit to the tournament, which starts on Thursday, until his official tee time for the opening round.
A reliable source told Reuters earlier this week that the Northern Irishman had scheduled a practice round at Whistling Straits on Saturday.
After a strong start to the 2015 season highlighted by three wins, McIlroy showed signs of fatigue when he missed the cut at two successive events in May and said that, after five consecutive tournaments, he needed to take a break.
He has played just 12 tournaments this year, most recently the US Open in June at Chambers Bay where he tied for ninth.
McIlroy won last year's PGA Championship by one shot after a final-round shootout that finished in near darkness at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.
He last played at the US Open at Chambers Bay in June, and was unable to defend his British Open title or his World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational crown because of the injury.
Spieth can supplant him as world No. 1 with a victory in the Bridgestone in Ohio this week.