Agent: Rory McIlroy's return unknown, despite Darren Clarke's comment

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Rory McIlroy's return from an ankle injury is uncertain, according to his agent, who responded Wednesday to comments made by former Open champion Darren Clarke, who suggested that the No. 1-ranked golfer would be out until January.

Clarke, who accepted player of the year honors on McIlroy's behalf at the Association of Golf Writers dinner Tuesday night in St. Andrews, had remarked: "When Rory comes back next year ... I didn't say that."

Many believed the comments were in jest, and McIlroy's agent said as much Wednesday.

"There was no basis for Darren's comments,'' Sean O'Flaherty told the Press Association. "Rory's rehabilitation is progressing well, but his return date is not yet known.''

McIlroy suffered ligament damage to his left ankle on July 4 while playing soccer with friends. He withdrew from last week's Scottish Open and pulled out of The Open on July 8.

If he misses extended time, he would be unable to defend his WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship titles next month.