Rory McIlroy injury: He will need the healing powers of Zeus to avoid missing both The Open and the PGA Championship

COMMENT: The course at St Andrews was set up perfectly for McIlroy to defend his title

Click to follow

A picture paints a thousand words, every one of them spelling pain. Rory McIlroy’s Instagram scoop showing him on crutches, his left foot in a surgical boot after rupturing ankle ligaments during a kickabout with his mates, is the last thing he or golf needs ten days before the Open Championship.

Recovery time for mortals is estimated at six months, for athletes like McIlroy expert opinion suggests he might be back in two to three, but with the Open starting next week and the PGA Championship five weeks hence, a defence of the two majors he won at the end of last year appears unlikely.

Here in his own words is an account of the injury: “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.”

And so the world’s no.1 golfer, the game’s box office star, will be watching the biggest tournament in golf from the sofa. The mishap will raise questions about the folly of engaging in physical activity of this nature at any time let alone the most important part of the season.

McIlroy was moving impressively through the gears, lighting up the final day of the US Open last month with arguably the best ball-striking of his career. Had his putter been remotely warm and the course less about random features the field might have been running for cover.

St Andrews, scene of this year’s Open Championship is notionally made for him in a summer such as this, witness his course record 63 on the opening day five years ago when the sun shone. His forbearance at Chambers Bay demonstrated how much improved he is in demanding conditions suggesting the 80 he shot in the wind on the second day in 2010 would remain a thing of the past.

All conjecture now. As optimistic as he is about a quick recovery, he would need the healing powers of Zeus to be playing again by September let alone next week.