Leaving the media centre at Wentworth yesterday, Rory McIlroy was a picture of heartbreak.
The former world No.10 – not so long ago, he was nine places better off – faced the media at the BMW PGA Championship just hours after announcing the end of his three-year relationship with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.
The couple had only announced their engagement on New Year’s Day and were due to get married in New York in November.
However, posting out the invitations for their nuptials at the weekend apparently gave Rory cold feet and talks in Monte Carlo at the start of the week resulted in them splitting. In a statement confirming the break-up, he said he wasn’t prepared for ‘all that marriage entails’.
The statement was brief and to the point – ‘The problem is mine,’ he acknowledged – and his press conference wasn’t particularly long, either. All of which has left more questions than answers.
For example, if he wasn’t prepared for marriage, why not just postpone the wedding? Why end the relationship altogether?
Also, why make the announcement the day before playing in the European Tour’s flagship event and one of the most high-profile tournaments on the calendar? Surely this was the sort of news that could have waited until next week? Or maybe he wanted to put across his version of events first…
Whatever the answers, there is no doubt in my mind that splitting with Wozniacki will, in time, prove to be good for Rory.
Being single might be the making of Rory McIlroy. He needs to put himself first again for a change.
As I noted in my column in issue 131 of bunkered, Caroline has not always been the best influence on the Northern Irishman. I’ve watched her behaviour often and thought she seemed too much of an attention-seeker, a bit of a ‘hanger on’. She clearly likes all eyes to be on her – and, by all accounts, likes things to be on her terms.
A source at Wentworth told me that, during the Masters, she made Rory rent a house just under an hour’s drive from Augusta National because she needed to have somewhere with a full-size tennis court where she and her coach could practice. The house wasn’t Rory’s first choice, I’m told. By all accounts, he wanted somewhere closer to the course. But Caroline, goes the story, put her foot down. And then she dyed her hair pink for the Par-3 Tournament.
Whilst others questioned her behaviour, however, Rory seemed lovestruck. No surprise there. He's a good kid, a level-headed young guy who can become one of the game’s all time greats. With two majors and a spell at world No.1 under his belt by the age of 25, he’s already well on the way. For my money, though, his relationship with Wozniacki was diluting his potential.
Being single might be the making of Rory McIlroy. He needs to put himself first again for a change and re-establish his independence. It might also be good for Caroline, too. Her career has nosedived since she and Rory got together. Maybe being single for a while will force her to re-evaluate her own priorities.
It’s sad when a relationship – any relationship – breaks down, particularly so publicly and when the people involved are so young. But re-dedicating himself to golf may well be the cure Rory’s broken heart needs.
He will, I’m sure, come out of this stronger and better than ever before.
Rory McIlroy / Caroline Wozniacki split: Your thoughts
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