Rory McIlroy has spoken about his engagement to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki for the first time – claiming she will give him the stability he needs after a turbulent 2013 left him struggling in the top flight.
The Co Down star's first victory in more than a year was recorded in Australia only last month, followed by his proposal to Danish star Wozniacki on New Year's Eve in Australia.
He may be cool on the course, but the golf superstar admitted his pulse was racing as he sank to one knee and popped the question.
"I was sweating a lot," said McIlroy. "A lot!"
"I'd an idea she'd say 'yes', but you never really know until it actually happens.
"It was a great way to end 2013 and start 2014. We were out on a boat in Sydney Harbour for New Year's Eve, just in front of the Opera House and the fireworks were going off.
"Yeah, I guess there was a little bit of romance involved and, yeah, she was surprised. I had an idea it was something she wanted and hoped she'd say 'yes' and she did," said a chuffed McIlroy.
The engagement ring he produced was as spectacular as the setting. McIlroy chose an eight-carat diamond to reflect Wozniacki's favourite number.
Wozniacki (23) gave tennis fans a glimpse of the sparkler after beating Lourdes Dominguez Lino early yesterday in the first round of the Australian Open.
Wozniacki said being engaged will bring "calmness" to their life. "We know what we want and it gives us even more time to focus on our careers," she added.
After racing to a 6-0, 6-2 win, she sat on her chair, pulled the ring from her tennis bag and slipped it onto her finger. When asked by an on-court interviewer to hold it up for the crowd and recount the proposal, she smiled, saying it was "very traditional. He asked my parents. He went down on one knee".
McIlroy, in Abu Dhabi for this week's HSBC Championship, said: "I'd been thinking about it for a while and asked Caroline's parents in the middle of December. She's definitely the right girl for me."
Earlier this month, Caroline Wozniacki revealed Rory McIlroy sought her parents' blessing before asking the tennis ace to be his wife last week. "He asked my parents for permission, like traditional, which was great," she said at the Sydney International. While there, she showed off her new diamond engagement ring – a sparkler said to be worth £120,000.