LONDON (Reuters) - The ankle ligament injury sustained by world number one Rory McIlroy may have golf fretting about his participation at the British Open but there is little doubt the sport is bigger than one player - no matter how talented.
McIlroy, who has begun his recovery process, wearing a surgical boot on his left leg, will undergo further tests before deciding whether he has a chance of defending his Open title next week.
Jordan Spieth, the man considered by many to be his main rival for the Claret Jug, has said he's keen to see the Northern Irishman on the links at St Andrews.
The tournament was being billed as a showdown between 26-year-old McIlroy and the 21-year-old Texan winner of this year's U.S. Masters and U.S. Open.
However, the British Open, given its history and prestige, is likely to sparkle as an occasion no matter what - and fans will certainly relish the prospect of watching Spieth continue his attempt to become the first player in the modern era to win all four majors in the same calendar year.
Such a feat remains improbable for no other reason than the fact that winning majors is notoriously tough - and retaining them has apparently become tougher still.
Even at the height of his powers, Tiger Woods failed to win considerably more majors than he won, triumphing 14 times in more than 40 attempts between 1997 and 2008.
No fewer than 15 players have won a major going back to 2010, and in that time no one has been able to successfully defend their crown, be it the British Open, U.S. Masters, U.S. Open or PGA Championship.
McIlroy himself has a mixed record at the British Open, his Hoylake victory last year aside. He tied for third in 2010, tied for 25th a year later, finished eight-over in 2012, and missed the cut in 2013.
Spieth and McIlroy, despite his injury, remain favorites for the championship with British bookmaker William Hill.
However, Justin Rose, Adam Scott and Bubba Watson - all of whom have won majors since 2013 - are also considered to be in contention, with or without McIlroy.
(Writing by Douglas Beattie; Editing by Stephen Wood)