Golf's world number one Rory Mcllroy put in a practice round at Whistling Straits on 10 August as he looks ahead to teeing off at this week's PGA Championship on 13 August. The return from injury by McIlroy to defend his title at this week's tournament gives the year's final major extra spice as rival Jordan Spieth aims to carve out another slice of golf history.
Four-times major champion McIlroy will also draw intense scrutiny at Whistling Straits as he returns to competitive golf after an absence of more than seven weeks. The Northern Irishman, who tied for ninth in the US Open at Chambers Bay in his most recent start, has been out of action since he ruptured a ligament in his left ankle while playing football with friends on 4 July.
"I was anticipating feeling a bit rusty and a bit out of sorts for the first couple of weeks but I started hitting balls on the 20th of July so... What's that? Been a week and a half or two weeks and it feels good. I've played quite a lot of golf since starting to hit balls and it feels good. I'm finding the middle of the club face. I think the one thing for me is my short game. Is it sharp? I been basically chipping and putting since this happened. I was putting in the boot so I've kept that part of the game sharp so everything feels pretty good," Mcllroy told reporters after his round.
World number one McIlroy and second-ranked Spieth have between them won four of the last five majors played and, aged just 26 and 22 respectively, they are likely to dominate the game at the highest level for some time to come. Mcllroy also spoke to reporters about retaining his top ranking.
"Obviously it's important. I've made that clear. I think it's been a year since I got it back but saying that I didn't check it this morning. I think playing well and winning golf tournaments takes care of the rankings is what I've always said. It's nice. It's a great position to be in and it's nice to be there buy playing well and competing in golf tournaments like this and ultimately winning them is what keeps you there and that's my main focus this week."
McIlroy has been diligent with his recovery and he played his arrival at Whistling Straits on Saturday to play 18 holes of practice at the PGA Championship venue, following by another 18 on Sunday, was warmly welcomed by his peers. If Mcllroy successfully defends his title this week he will be the first to do it since Tiger Woods. Woods, a four time winner, defended his championship at Valhalla in Louisville after winning the year before at Medinah in 1999.