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Rory McIlroy consults Tiger Woods after injury ends British open hopes


ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND — Tiger Woods was checking his phone July 4 when he saw a message from Rory McIlroy.

The image and accompanying text was not good.

The world No. 1 had injured his left ankle while playing soccer with his friends and later learned that he had sustained a total rupture of an ankle ligament and the associated joint capsule. On Wednesday McIlroy announced he would not be able to defend his title in this week’s 144th British Open on the Old Course.

“He sent me a photo the day he did it. We talked about it for a little bit,” Woods told reporters on Saturday after spending much of his day with junior golfers to kick off his preparation for the third major of the season. “He said, ‘You’ve been through a lot of injuries over the years,’ so he picked my brain a little bit. We had a good talk. He’s doing the right thing, taking care of his body first before he gets back out here.”

Woods said McIlroy was feeling down and disappointed. McIlroy won the last two majors of 2014 to run his haul to four in the game’s biggest events and was gearing his game up for title defences in the British Open and PGA Championship. Now, however, the winner of three worldwide events this year isn’t sure when he’ll return to the course.

“No doubt, he’s frustrated that he’s not going to be able to play in the Open Championship, especially here at St. Andrews,” Woods said. “And how well he’s been playing of late, and this golf course really does set up well for him, too. That’s the way it goes. We all get injured at one point in time. Sometimes it’s through the sport or sometimes it’s through fun activities.

“You just never know.”

Woods said he loves to play tennis but he never has or will play the week of a tournament. But he’ll still shoot some buckets during a tournament, but only while playing H-O-R-S-E.

“I’m not going to take a chance of turning an ankle, especially playing basketball,” Woods said. “When I was that young I wasn’t worried about the jumping part or knees. It’s landing on someone’s foot. But shooting horse or shooting, you can control the landing. But playing a pick-up game, no way.

“. . . You can’t live in a box. I’ve skied a lot. I like adrenaline. I like feeling that rush. That’s why I love spear fishing, free diving. It’s so peaceful down there. But there is inherent risk in all of that. But you can’t live in a box.”

TORONTO STAR | SPORTS