London - World No 1 Rory McIlroy gave the strongest hint yet in a teasing Twitter post on Friday that he plans to defend his PGA Championship title next week at Whistling Straits after recovering from an ankle injury.
The Northern Irishman, who has been out of action since he ruptured a ligament in his left ankle while playing soccer with friends on July 4, posted a picture of the interior of a private jet with a British passport front and centre on a table.
Accompanying the picture was a series of emojis (or picture characters) indicating a flight from Portugal to the United States followed by a thumbs-up, a victory sign and a golf course symbol.
McIlroy has been practising in Portugal over the past few days and has been using social networking sites to post several teasing updates about his recovery from the injury.
On Thursday, the 26-year-old posted on his Instagram account a video of himself pounding a driver on the practice range, accompanied by the comment: "Feels good to hit the driver again!"
He also posted two pictures of his left foot, the first showing a very swollen ankle soon after he had suffered the injury and the second revealing a bruised but greatly improved ankle.
"4 and a half and 3 and a half weeks ago respectively... I've come a long way since," McIlroy tweeted.
The world number one is listed in the field for the PGA Championship, the year's fourth and final major, which will be played next week at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin.
McIlroy, a four-times major champion, does not have to commit to the tournament, which starts on Thursday, until his official tee time for the opening round.
A reliable source told Reuters earlier this week that the Northern Irishman has scheduled a practice round at Whistling Straits on Saturday.
After a strong start to the 2015 season highlighted by three wins, McIlroy showed signs of fatigue when he missed the cut at two successive events in May and said that, after five consecutive tournaments, he needed to take a break.
He has played just 12 tournaments this year, most recently the US Open in June at Chambers Bay where he tied for ninth.
McIlroy won last year's PGA Championship by one shot after a final-round shootout that finished in near darkness at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.