Rory McIlroy's Open Championship title defense is in doubt in the wake of an injury the world No. 1 suffered on July 4 playing soccer with his friends. McIlroy said he experienced a total rupture of his ATFL ligament in his left ankle and that he had already started rehabilitation with the intent of getting back to competitive golf as soon as he can.
So, what is the ATFL ligament? Its full name is the anterior talofibular ligament, and it's one of the weakest ankle ligaments, located on the outside of the ankle. The ligament connects the ankle bone to the front of the fibula. It gets damaged when it is stretched through unnatural movement -- namely, rolling it over through a bad plant of the foot.
We know, at a minimum, that McIlroy is out for this week's Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. However, there is an outside chance McIlroy could still play next week at St. Andrews. This injury has a minimum recovery time of 10-14 days, according to a Golf Channel expert, depending on the severity of the injury. On the lower end of that scale, McIlroy could conceivably play in the Open Championship, where he has now gone from a 5-to-1 shot to win to an 8-to-1 shot. It could range up to six weeks, however, bringing into doubt his other major title defense this summer at the PGA Championship in August.