Irish golfer Rory McIlroy, currently the world’s top-ranked golfer, suffered an ankle injury over the weekend and threw his status for the 2016 Rio Olympics into doubt.
While playing soccer with friends over the weekend, McIlroy ruptured the anterior talofibular ligament in his left ankle. He announced the injury on Instagram with a photo of him balancing on crutches with his leg in a boot.
His caption read, “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.”
McIlroy’s spokesman confirmed that he won’t compete at the Scottish Open, which begins Thursday. He’ll also likely miss the Open Championship at St. Andrews, which begins on July 16th.
If McIlroy’s rehab stretches into next season, or if he returns too soon and plays poorly, he may not have a high enough ranking to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
120 players, 60 men and 60 women, will be included in the 2016 Olympic golf tournament, based on the world rankings in July 2016. The top 15, with no more than four players per nation, will be eligible to qualify, and then the field will be filled according to rankings with a maximum of two players per nation.
McIlroy announced last month that he will seek to represent Ireland, not Great Britain, in the Olympics. Choosing Ireland will make qualifying easier, as there are more British golfers in the top 60 rankings.
Golf will be returning to the Olympic program for the first time since 1904. The 72-hole, stroke-play tournament will take place over both weeks of the Olympics, with men competing during the first week and women in the second.