Rory McIlroy will let others win his WGC-Bridgestone Invitational title this year

Aug 3, 2014; Akron, OH, USA; Rory McIlroy celebrates with the trophy following the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament at Firestone Country Club - South Course. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Any hope of seeing Rory McIlroy defend his title at next week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational were thrown out the window Wednesday. McIlroy informed tournament officials that he will not be playing due to his ankle injury.

McIlroy, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, has been out since suffering ligament damage in his left ankle while playing soccer with friends on July 4. Two days later, he withdrew from The Open. Now his defense of the PGA Championship in two weeks appears to be up in the air.

“Unfortunately, I will not be defending my World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational title,” McIlroy said in a statement released Wednesday. “Best of luck to all the competitors, and I look forward to returning to Firestone in 2016.”

Rory McIlroy wins 2014 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

The WGC event is one of four annual World Golf Championships. Last summer, McIlroy went on a three-tournament winning streak at The Open, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship.

Prior to his injury, McIlroy was having an incredible season. He won the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic, then followed up with wins at the WGC-Match Play and the Wells Fargo Championship. He had top-10 finishes at both the Masters and the U.S. Open.

There are currently 78 players qualified for the Bridgestone at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. The winner of this week’s Quicken Loans National and anyone else who moves into the top 50 in the Official World Ranking who is not already qualified will earn a spot in the field.

AKRON, OH - AUGUST 03:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates after his winning putt on the 18th green during the final round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club South Course on August 3, 2014 in Akron, Ohio.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)