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McIlroy won't play Firestone; PGA status unknown

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Rory McIlroy won’t defend his title at next week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Still unclear is whether his injured left ankle will be healthy enough for a run at back-to-back PGA titles.   

The PGA Tour announced Wednesday that McIlroy and Chris Kirk (broken right hand) have informed tournament officials that they will miss next week’s World Golf Championships event at Firestone.

The McIlroy news isn’t all that surprising, given the severity of his injury – a total rupture of the left ATFL and associated joint capsule damage – and the general timetable for a return, which medical experts estimated was anywhere from 10 days to six weeks. McIlroy said he was injured while running toward a soccer ball during a friendly game with friends on July 4. 

Kirk broke his right hand while playing with his children.

McIlroy is still ranked No. 1 in the world, on the strength of three wins in 12 starts this season, but Jordan Spieth will have a chance to overtake him at Firestone. McIlroy will now miss at least three scheduled starts because of the injury. Last year, he shot 15-under 265 at Firestone and won by two shots over Sergio Garcia.

A healthy McIlroy would pose a significant threat at Whistling Straits, which places a premium on driving. When the PGA was last held there, in 2010, he finished in a tie for third, one shot out of the playoff.