Rory McIlroy injures ankle playing July 4 soccer, likely out of the Open

Ryan Ballengee
(Rory McIlroy via AP)
(Rory McIlroy via AP)

Rory McIlroy is doubtful for next week's British Open Championship after suffering an ankle injury while playing soccer with friends on July 4. 

McIlroy shared the news on Instagram, saying: "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."

The recovery time for such an injury can range wildy, with experts trotted out today that suggested 10-14 days or as long as six weeks. 

The four-time major winner was scheduled to compete in this week's Scottish Open, but officially withdrew on Monday. McIlroy told the European Tour he will not provide any further update on his condition until, at a minimum, "the end of the week at the earliest," according to a Tour statement.

Though the world No. 1 didn't rule out competing at St. Andrews, it seems very unlikely at this point. Were he unable to play, McIlroy would not get a chance to defend the title he won last year at Royal Liverpool. He'd be the first player since Ben Hogan in 1954 not to defend the Open title the next year. 

If McIlroy's recovery time extends well beyond a month, that would bring into doubt his PGA Championship defense in August at Whistling Straits. Beyond the remaining two majors this year, McIlroy is set to defend the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the win McIlroy sandwiched in between the Open and the PGA last summer.

After majors season ends, McIlroy then has the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs. McIlroy could be healed by then, but the Ulsterman will have to deal with a bit of ring rust as he tries to make a run at the PGA Tour's season-long title before he shifts gears to potentially pursue yet another Race to Dubai title on the European Tour.

____________________

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.