SHEBOYGAN, Wis.Rory McIlroy faces a different set of questions from the last time he played in a golf tournament, and he had answers for most of them Wednesday. ¶ His left ankle, with swelling the size of a tennis ball after he heard it snap while playing soccer with friends in early July, felt fine when he got off the plane and began preparing for the final major of the year. His game is good, and he sees no one reason why that will change when he begins defense of his PGA Championship today. ¶ One other question was a little more tricky: Who's the best player in the world? ¶ McIlroy, 26, is No. 1 in the ranking. He also has watched Jordan Spieth, 22, produce an inspiring year by winning the Masters and U.S. Open, and then coming within one shot of making the playoff at the British Open. Spieth has four wins this year, one more than McIlroy, who missed the British Open because of a ruptured ligament in the ankle. ¶ "If you were to go by this year, you would have to say Jordan," McIlroy said. "If you go over the last two years, I would say it's probably a tossup between Jordan and myself. That's a hard one. Okay, we've got the rankings there, but it's all a matter of opinion."A year ago after I won this tournament, it was the Rory Era, and after Jordan wins the Masters, it's the Jordan Era. Eras last about six months these days instead of 20 years."And what was his opinion about who's the best?"I'll tell you at the end of the week," McIlroy said, smiling.McIlroy's rapid return has raised some eyebrows among creakier veterans, notably Tiger Woods, who wondered if McIlroy has come back too soon and how the ankle would respond to the physical demands of Whistling Straits, with steep side hills that require crooked, angled stances and a lot of swiveling and heavy-loading of the legs and feet.McIlroy's attitude? It's just golf, not mountaineering.Though different types — McIlroy is more sweet-swinging and easily distractible, Spieth the more mechanistic and focused — they have similar outlooks on the state of the sport.Last year after winning the British Open and PGA in a month to become the fourth player in a century to collect four majors before age 26, McIlroy said, "Golf is looking for someone to put their hand up and try. I want to be that person." Then Spieth, at 21, swept the Masters and U.S. Open, and made a run at becoming the only player other than Ben Hogan and Woods to win three majors in the same year. "I'd like to be one of those people," Spieth said.Spieth ramped himself back up for the PGA this week by playing in a high stakes practice-round match with Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas at Whistling Straits on Tuesday. He amused his partners by threatening to bring along his U.S. Open trophy to dangle in front of Mickelson; it's the one big title Mickelson lacks."I'm going to try to get the U.S. Open trophy flown in so I can sit it on the front of each green for Phil," Spieth said. "We'll see if we can get somebody to carry it around for the round. It's the first time I have something on him."Compare that fresh attitude to, say, the choppy semi-hysterics of a Bubba Watson or the grinding hyper-analytical neurosis of Woods. If Spieth and McIlroy have a quality that sets them apart, it's their resilient mental health.They play together today and Friday. For Spieth, more history is at stake. He is trying to become the first player to win the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA in the same season. For McIlroy, the No. 1 ranking is potentially in play: Spieth could seize it by finishing third or better.McIlroy will have "a chance to at least fight for (ranking) himself," Spieth said. "Which is what we all want." The Golf Channel contributed to this report.