Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Rory McIlroy: announcing split from Caroline Wozniacki was only thing I could do

Feeling good: Rory McIlroy has a spring in his step during practice yesterday

Rory McIlroy still believes he did the right thing by announcing the end of his relationship with Caroline Wozniacki before last week's BMW PGA tournament at Wentworth, which he subsequently won.

Speaking on the eve of the Memorial in Ohio, the Ulsterman was initially reticent to speak about the sudden ending of his engagement – reportedly via a curt three-minute phone call – to the Danish tennis star.

When asked about the call, the 25-year-old snapped: "I'm only here to talk about my golf."

But when pressed about the timing of his announcement, the Holywood man said: "It's one of those things... it was a very public relationship and I thought it was best that, instead of letting it linger and have rumours and everything, have it out there as soon as possible.

Wozniacki admitted after her first-round defeat at the French Open that she was shocked by her ex's behaviour, coming as it did just days after the couple's wedding invitations had been sent out.

When asked about how he'd cope in a new relationship, McIlroy sighed: "Look, it's only been a week; give me a chance."

The world number 6 was in better spirits earlier in the evening when Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley described him as "Tigeresque".

McIlroy, the world No 6, tees it up alongside Adam Scott, the No 1, and Jason Day, the No 7, in the marquee grouping of the first round of the Memorial in Ohio today.

After his first win of the season at Wentworth on Sunday, McIlroy will be many experts' idea of the favourite in Ohio.

For his part, McGinley seems almost certain that McIlroy will be there or thereabouts. He used to believe that the Holywood native was a streaky player, but the past few months has forced McGinley to think again. In his past nine stroke-play events, McIlroy has finished in the top 10 eight times.

"Having watched him the last six months and how he has been able to churn out a top-10 finish from relatively poor first two rounds, like he did at the Players (at Sawgrass this month), we are seeing a different Rory now," said Dubliner McGinley .

"We are seeing a Rory who is able to dig deep when things aren't going well and still churn out a top-10 finish. He calls them 'backing into top-10s'. They are wonderful performances. And then when you do hit top form like last week, you go on to win.

"We are seeing a more mature Rory and certainly one for the better. And maybe a little into the Tiger-esque way of consistency week after week."

With seven of the top 10 in the tournament promoted by Jack Nicklaus, McIlroy will likely have to be at his very best to prevail.

McGinley will be thrilled that so many of his high-profile players appear to peaking for the summer, although he can be forgiven for reserving most excitement for McIlroy.

Not only did the 25-year-old do so much to secure him the captain's role, but McGinley obviously sees McIlroy as his main man for Gleneagles in September.

"I couldn't have more engagement from Rory as Ryder Cup captain," McGinley said.

"We had a really good chat for half an hour on Saturday morning and he wanted to know the lines I am thinking on. I couldn't ask more for him at this stage. I am sure come September he will be ready to fulfil a big role."

Scott is sure to remain as world No 1 this week, with the No 2 Henrik Stenson playing in his home tournament, the Nordea Masters in Malmo.

Thomas Bjorn, who blew a five-stroke lead in the final round at Wentworth, also plays in Sweden.

Nicklaus revealed that Woods rang him to say how he will miss playing at the Memorial, but did not give any indication when he will return after his back operation in March.

The 18-time Major winner also said he would not write off the possibility of Woods collecting the five Majors he needs to break Nicklaus' record.

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