The defending champion is out of the picture, who will take his place?

Published 6:47 pm Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I always love when a monkey wrench gets thrown into the mix.

Pro golfer Rory McIlroy posted a photo on Instagram Monday morning of himself on crutches and a huge brace clamped around the bottom half of his left leg.

The story: while playing soccer with friends over the holiday weekend, McIlroy ruptured his ATFL (anterior talofibular ligament) in his left ankle. Hey, he’s from Scotland. I’m not surprised at all in between tournaments the three-time major winner likes to kick around the ole “football.” Probably helps clear his head, you know, relieves some stress.

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Well, McIlroy will be completely stress-free about his performance at the British Open next week… because he won’t be playing in it. The injury inhibits him from swinging smoothly. On the follow through, a large amount of weight is shifted to the left leg, building power. McIlroy can’t stand on his left leg right now, much less swing a golf club competitively.

He has already dropped out of the Scottish Open this week, which would have been a brilliant practice round for St. Andrews. Last year’s winner, it appears, will not be present to defend the cup.

Leading up to the British Open, people have been yapping about Rory defending his title, and the biggest contenders to swoop in and take it from him.

The ideal showdown has been built up to be between the young-blood Jordan Spieth, who has won the first two majors of the tour this year, and McIlroy. Throw in guys like Dustin Johnson searching yet again for redemption, Sergio Garcia and Bubba Watson (hot off a great win at the Travelers Championship), and you have another great, drama-filled major.

Now with Rory (most likely) out of the picture, a huge slice of the competition is gone. As if the pressure wasn’t immense enough already, this brings Spieth one step closer to the coveted, yet-to-be-achieved modern grand slam—a win at all four majors in the same year.

“For me, it doesn’t change anything,” Spieth said in a Golf Channel interview. “It’s still just as challenging. It’s still a major championship and there is a lot of unbelievable talent. I obviously wish he was there.”

Yeah… I bet he does. Then at least he wouldn’t feel the weight of millions of eyeballs watching him next weekend, expecting him to take advantage of Rory’s absence and clinch no. 3 this year.

It’s a position I don’t envy. Then again, Spieth would make me look like a fool on the course. I’d be better off playing soccer with Rory.