A new book documenting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s explosive departure from the Royal Family has claimed NI golfer Rory McIlroy’s performance in a competition “suffered” after dinner and drinks with Meghan Markle.
Writing in ‘Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the war between the Windsors’, author Tom Bower claims the Duchess met the Co Down golfer in New York after he nominated the future royal for the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge.’
The challenge, which involved participants dunking a bucket of ice water over themselves and nominating others to do the same, went viral in the summer of 2014 in a bid to raise funds to help those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neurone disease.
It’s claimed after McIlroy nominated Markle, who was then starring on the American legal TV series Suits and dating chef Cory Bitiello at the time, she invited him to join her in the Big Apple.
“She accepted the challenge, on the condition that Rory came to her friend’s apartment and personally poured the bucket over her on the balcony. After the video was posted, the two went to the Fitzpatrick hotel for a drink” writes Bower.
He goes on to say the Duchess and McIlroy, who missed out on ending his major drought by finishing third at The 150th Open Championship at St Andrews on Sunday, enjoyed dinner at the high-end restaurant Cipriani in the city where they were joined by a party of 20 people.
Bower writes: “The following morning, McIlroy arrived at the Ringwood golf course to play in a new competition. Worse for wear after a hectic night, he fell back to 101st place.
"His performance suffered. ‘I wasn’t quite on my game,’ he confessed. ‘I was enjoying myself’.”
That was the opening round at The Barclays event on the PGA Tour, where he shot a three over par 74. He would recover with a much improved 65 in round two and end the week five under par in a share of 22nd place.
It’s also been reported that a newspaper report from the time said the Holywood golfer and future Duchess were spotted “looking very cosy”.