Rory McIlroy: I'm in the rough
Rory McIlroy is suddenly the most talked-about golfer in the world again – but not for the reasons he wants.
The Ulsterman admitted it would be hard to keep his mind on golf – he tees off in the PGA Championship at Wentworth today – after announcing his dramatic break-up with Caroline Wozniacki.
"I'm not going to lie; it's going to be very difficult," said McIlroy when asked about how he thought his game would hold up at the European Tour's flagship event.
The 25-year-old hasn't got the best of records at this event – he has missed the cut in each of the last two years – and the bombshell news about the break-up, coming just days after the wedding invitations were sent out, is unlikely to help.
McIlroy said he had not considered withdrawing from the event, adding: "I just want to get my head into golf this week and concentrate on the tournament and try and do well.
"I've been playing well. At least when I get inside the ropes, I can just try and concentrate on the shot at hand. "My schedule right now is here, Memorial and US Open, Irish Open, Scottish Open, British Open. I don't think that's going to change."
In the last couple of years McIlroy has changed his clubs, his management – twice – and now he is single again after a three-year romance.
Rory and Caroline enjoyed a short-lived engagement after announcing to their million-plus Twitter followers last New Year's Eve that they were to marry.
At the time the two posted matching pictures of themselves with a ring. It is understood the couple had been an item for more than two years, but they were forced to scotch rumours of a split late last year.
As recently as Sunday, McIlroy's Twitter feed suggested there were no signs of trouble in the relationship after he posted a picture from Nobu restaurant in Monte Carlo where the pair had dinner.
McIlroy said he never contemplated pulling out of the Wentworth tournament.
“There's no good time to end a relationship, I guess,” he said.
“I made a commitment to be here. It's the European Tour's flagship event... I thought it was my duty to play in this event. You know, once I gave my word that I would, I wasn't going back on it.”
McIlroy appeared downbeat but was quite candid when taking questions ahead of the tournament at Wentworth, where he is fourth favourite to lift the title.
He chanced a rueful but wide smile when asked about spending the weekend on a course that he “loves”.
“Look, I think I'm no different than anyone else. Everyone has been through break-ups and it's obviously very, very difficult,” he said. “But look, I'm here to try and concentrate on this week and answer questions about golf and that's what I'm going to do.”
Wozniacki, 23, who was born in Denmark to Polish parents, reached world number one in her own sport in 2012 but has yet to win a grand slam.
The tennis ace now sits at number 14 in the world rankings with the French Open at Roland Garros coming up next week.
She sported a large diamond ring, said to be worth about 120,000 euros (£98,000), since the engagement.
Days before the break-up was announced, McIlroy took to Twitter to rubbish reports that the wedding was to take place in New York in August.
He is now looking to dive into his golf and keep busy in the weeks ahead.
In the statement confirming the split, McIlroy said: “There is no right way to end a relationship that has been so important to two people. The problem is mine.
“The wedding invitations issued at the weekend made me realise that I wasn't ready for all that marriage entails. I wish Caroline all the happiness she deserves and thank her for the great times. I will not be saying anything more about our relationship.”