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Don't kick Rory McIlroy when he's down, it was a freak accident

By Kevin Garside

Rory McIlroy does not do things by halves. He wins big, he loses big, he falls over big.

This latest drama could not have come at a more inopportune moment. Clearly, there is no good time to rupture ankle ligaments, but some months are worse than others and July - 12 days before The Open Championship - is as bad as it gets for the defending champion.

There will be disquiet in some quarters, mutterings about unprofessional behaviour. Perhaps some perspective is required here. First up, this was a freak event. McIlroy is one of the fittest players on tour and employs the services of a sports scientist, Steve McGregor, responsible for setting up the fitness labs at Manchester City and the New York Knicks basketball team. In other words, McIlroy knows what he is doing and this was not a Premier League game.

Informal kickabouts of the sort that claimed McIlroy are a feature of some training programmes in other sports. For example, England's cricketers under Michael Vaughan introduced ball games in the outfield as a warm-up routine.

Commenting at Wimbledon yesterday, former champion Richard Krajicek remarked on how diversions of this nature are desirable since they break up the monotony of hitting, in his case, tennis balls all day, in McIlroy's case, golf balls.

At the Masters four years ago, McIlroy was sent away with a flea in his ear by a neighbour for throwing an American football about with his mates in front of his rental house. We laughed. The issue of injury was never raised because the chances of that happening were so remote.

It might be that on this occasion the pain of missing out on the most important part of the season at a time when he was coming into peak form persuades him to temper this kind of practice in the future. But that would not be an acknowledgment of stupidity or wrongdoing.

There would be more cause for reproach were he to head up a mountain and strap a set of skis to his boots, as he did once after his ex-fiancée Caroline Wozniacki went out of the Australian Open.

Paul Casey lost a good part of his season three years ago when dislocating his shoulder while snowboarding in the United States. Though he came a cropper in the winter, he deserved the criticism that came his way for putting himself in danger.

McIlroy was engaged in nothing more than downtime, the kind that prevents him going mad as a result of the demands associated with the goldfish bowl in which he is required to spend his working life.

He was unlucky, that's all. Clearly, if he hadn't played, he wouldn't be injured. But take that argument to its logical conclusion and he would never leave his house.

Belfast Telegraph

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