Rory McIlroy will be devastated to sit out Open, insists Graeme McDowell
World No 1 Rory McIlroy will be "gutted" to miss out on the defence of his Open Championship title next week, according to Ryder Cup team-mate Graeme McDowell.
McIlroy revealed on Monday that he had suffered a "total rupture'' of the anterior talofibular ligament in his left ankle while playing football with friends.
The 26-year-old pulled out of this week's Scottish Open at Gullane and although he initially did not rule himself out of competing at St Andrews, the four-time Major winner said yesterday he was taking a "long-term view" of the injury.
"After much consideration, I have decided not to play in the Open Championship at St Andrews," McIlroy wrote on Instagram. "I'm taking a long-term view of this injury and, although rehab is progressing well, I want to come back to tournament play when I feel 100% healthy and 100% competitive.
"Thank you for all your support and best wishes. I hope to be back on the course as soon as I can.... In the meantime, come on Andy!!!"
That was a reference to McIlroy's friend Andy Murray, who could be seen in the Instagram post on television playing his Wimbledon quarter-final as McIlroy watched with his foot in what appeared to be a soft brace, but out of the protective boot he was wearing on Monday.
The clash between McIlroy and Masters and US Open champion Jordan Spieth had been eagerly anticipated and McDowell said: "It's hugely disappointing, especially with him and Jordan and everything that's going on. It was looking like a really exciting Open for all involved.
"I was reading between the lines as to what the description of his injury was. I wasn't expecting him to play in The Open, so I'm not surprised he's pulled out. But it's a massive blow for the tournament, he's the World's No 1 player. We hope for a speedy recovery.
"No one would love to stop Jordan in his tracks next week more than Rory. With the fun rivalry going on and everything, he's going to be gutted. I saw the golf course last Saturday and I believed that Rory was rightly a favourite. I thought he'd get it done round there."
Former US Open champion Justin Rose added: "I would have been surprised if he was there given the initial diagnosis but it's a big shame for him and the tournament."
McIlroy's defence of the Bridgestone Invitational in a month's time and the following week's US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits is also in serious jeopardy as the 26-year-old could face months on the sidelines.
McIlroy is the first player not to defend his Open title since Ben Hogan in 1954 - Hogan won the Claret Jug at Carnoustie in 1953 in his only appearance in the event.
A statement on the Open Championship Twitter account read: "We are naturally very disappointed that Rory will be unable to defend his title at St Andrews next week.
"Rory will play in many more Open Championships and our primary concern is for his complete recovery. Everyone associated with The Open wishes Rory the very best as he looks to return to full fitness."
Florida-based Scot Russell Knox, who was first reserve, replaces McIlroy in the field at St Andrews.
The 30-year-old's wife told him the news via text message while he was playing in the pro-am at Gullane.
"Everyone is gutted for Rory," Knox said. "He is in the prime of his career and would have had a great chance.
"Nobody wants to get in because someone else got injured but I am happy I am in the field and just can't wait to give it a blast.
"What Scot does not want to play in the Open, let alone an Open at St Andrews?
"I'm going to go all John Daly on it, get in the last minute and go and win."
Daly famously won the 1991 US PGA crown at Crooked Stick after initially being ninth reserve and driving through the night to reach Indiana in time for the first round.