CARY (Wisconsin) • World No. 1 golfer Rory McIlroy has scheduled a Saturday practice round at Whistling Straits, site of next week's PGA Championship, according to a reliable source.
The Northern Irishman has not played since rupturing the anterior ligament in his left ankle early last month, an injury that prevented him from defending his British Open title at St Andrews. McIlroy's manager, Sean O'Flaherty, did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
News that the four-time Major champion plans to tee it up on the Wisconsin course this weekend is the first indication that he may defend his title at the PGA Championship, which starts on Aug 13.
McIlroy won last year's event by one stroke at Valhalla in Kentucky. The 26-year-old has ruled himself out of this week's World Golf Championships event in Akron, Ohio.
Previously, he said that although his rehab was going well, he did not want to rush back before he was ready. "I'm taking a long-term view of this injury and, although rehab is progressing well, I want to come back to tournament play when I feel 100 per cent healthy and 100 per cent competitive," he said in announcing his decision to skip the British Open.
A practice round at Whistling Straits would give McIlroy a chance to walk the undulating layout and test his ankle in a way that playing elsewhere would not replicate.
Some medical experts initially said the injury suffered by McIlroy normally takes about 12 weeks to completely heal. The first round of the PGA Championship will take place almost six weeks after he was injured playing football.
An employee at Whistling Straits said he was not allowed to comment on scheduled practice rounds by players ahead of the championship.
Getting an early look at the layout, meanwhile, was world No. 2 Jordan Spieth, who played a round at Whistling Straits on Monday with fellow Americans Gary Woodland and Justin Thomas.
Spieth, who turned 22 last week, won the first two Majors of the year before falling one shot short of the play-off at the British Open.
Should he win the Bridgestone Invitational starting tomorrow, Spieth would displace McIlroy as world No. 1. REUTERS