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Rory McIlroy facing more pain by missing two title defences

By Liam Kelly

Rory McIlroy will not concede defeat on his prospects of defending the USPGA Championship, the final Major of the season, until the last possible moment.

McIlroy's chances of playing at Whistling Straits from August 13-16 depend on his making a recovery that would be far in advance of most estimates.

His announcement yesterday that he will not defend his WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone next week was no surprise.

Once he ruptured the anterior talofibular ligament in his left ankle in a football kickabout with friends on July 4, experts forecast a minimum absence from tournaments of at least three months.

Already he has missed the Scottish Open and The Open Championship. A return to fitness and then to playing readiness makes his comeback more likely to be October-November, barring any setbacks.

In a statement, McIlroy said: "Unfortunately, I will not be defending my World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational title. Best of luck to all the competitors and I look forward to returning to Firestone in 2016."

Barring a minor miracle, by the time the Bridgestone finishes on Sunday, August 9, another withdrawal notice, this time from the PGA, is likely.

Ulster's Stephanie Meadow is the sole Irish challenger in a star-studded field for the Ricoh Women's British Open starting today at Turnberry.

GALGORM NI OPEN LATEST: PAGE 52

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