Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

The Open: Rory McIlroy shows elite sport and relationships just don't mix

Rory McIlroy with Caroline Wozniacki

Rory McIlroy's victory at Hoylake sees him join the golfing elite of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods – one of a trio of sporting superstars to win three Majors by the age of 25.

He's spoken of finding "inner peace" at Hoylake, no doubt helped by the fact he's had few off-course distractions to hamper his play of late.

Even a cheap dig by his ex-fiancée Caroline Wozniacki over his height failed to rile him as he set himself up to win his first Open Championship.

The 5ft 8in tennis star posted a photograph of herself on Twitter, wearing high heels during a shopping trip in Turkey, where she was competing in the Istanbul Cup.

"Out and about in Istanbul," she tweeted. "It's been three years since I have worn high heels on a normal day out."

Perhaps it's no coincidence that on the very day McIlroy was poised to walk away with one of sport's greatest prizes, Wozniacki herself was making headlines for winning the Istanbul Cup.

Two months on from their engagement split, the pair are back on form in their respective sports, though it's taken Wozniacki a little longer to get her groove back.

While McIlroy won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May, just days after his highly-publicised split from the Dane, Wozniacki crashed out of the French Open in the first round in May, and reached the fourth round of Wimbledon last month.

The once golden couple of sport were both at the top of their games, both world number ones, when they began dating, not long after McIlroy broke up with his on/off girlfriend of six years, Holly Sweeney.

Sweeney was going out with McIlroy at the time he won the US Open, his first Major title, but a subdued performance at the Open in Royal St George shortly afterwards was attributed to his break-up with her on the eve of the tournament.

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy celebrates winning the 2014 Open Championship with his mum at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy celebrates winning the 2014 Open Championship with his mum at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy kisses the Claret Jug after winning the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy kisses the Claret Jug after winning the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake.
Rory McIlroy wins the British Open at Hoylake, Liverpool and the members at Holywood Golf Club celebrate.
Rory McIlroy wins the British Open at Hoylake, Liverpool and the members at Holywood Golf Club celebrate.

When he later took up with Wozniacki, the pair became public property, often finding themselves making headlines for reasons other than sport.

When both experienced a dip in form, veteran sports stars weighed in to urge them to concentrate on their careers.

McIlroy's private life has played out like a soap drama, break-ups and broken hearts, Twitter spats between Sweeney and Wozniacki, the shock announcement that his engagement to the tennis star was over just days after the wedding invitations were posted.

Bookmakers even began taking bets on the identity of his next girlfriend. In recent weeks he's been linked with Irish model Nadia Forde, though both have played the rumours down.

Last year Britain's greatest golfer Sir Nick Faldo advised McIlroy to avoid distractions and focus on his game. He said: "You have a window of opportunity. You have a 20-year window as an athlete. Concentrate on golf, nothing else."

It seems Faldo's wise words have paid off.

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