Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy finished tied ninth on his last appearance at the US Open in late June Getty

Rory McIlroy will be in a position to defend his US PGA Championship title next week after stepping up his recovery from a nasty injury by successfully completing a practice round at Whistling Straits.

The reigning world number one, who won the 2014 edition of the tournament after beating Phil Mickelson by a single stroke, has not competed at all since he was forced to withdraw from contention at The Open in July after a casual game of football led to a ruptured ligament and joint capsule damage to his left ankle.

McIlroy's place at the year's final major looked to be in serious doubt after he subsequently pulled out of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio last week, but he recently gave fans cause for optimism with a series of Instagram posts that showed the swelling in the affected area has significantly reduced and also allowed him to step up his gym work as well as practice with his driver.

Although publicist Terry Prone was quick to deny that he had been booked in for a round at the championship course this weekend, the four-time major winner did complete 18 holes alongside friend Harry Diamond on 8 August after previously appearing to confirm that he had indeed travelled to the United States.

Great 18 holes this morning with @haza136

A photo posted by Rory McIlroy (@rorymcilroy) on


The PGA of America seemed to have prior knowledge of McIlroy's involvement, announcing on Friday (7 August) that he will be paired with rival Jordan Spieth and Open winner Zach Johnson for the opening round of the PGA Championship.