Belfast Telegraph

Rory McIlroy: Turbulent year with major success on the course and major upheavals off it

By Sara Neill

Two Majors, a broken engagement and a world number one ranking - 2014 has been a turbulent year for Rory McIlroy as his professional and personal life hit the headlines.

Celebrations began with the Holywood golfer ringing in the New Year by popping the question to tennis champ Caroline Wozniacki.

Back on the greens in January, a two-shot penalty cost Rory the Abu Dhabi HSBC golf championship and he hit out at the "stupid rules" in golf.

His shaky start continued during March's Honda Classic on the PGA Tour, when Rory led the pack through the four rounds, but eventually ended up in third place.

Two months later the 25-year-old won the PGA Championship at Wentworth by one stroke, the start of a winning streak.

In May, just five months after putting a ring on Caroline's finger, it was announced the Wozilroy wedding would not go ahead.

Rory commented he "wasn't ready for all that marriage entails", and it was revealed that he ended the relationship during a 10-minute phone call, days after their wedding invitations were sent out.

He attracted more attention in June when he declared that he would play for Ireland if he qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games.

"Thinking about all the times that I played as an amateur for Ireland and as a boy and everything, I think for me it's the right decision to play for Ireland in 2016," he said.

While previous poor form sparked rumours of relationship woes, the split from Wozniacki only seemed to improve Rory's game. He bagged a third Major championship win at The Open at Royal Liverpool in July, and victory at the WGCS Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone.

The Claret Jug visited many of the golfer's favourite spots, including Ollie's nightclub in Belfast.

Rory later told the First and Deputy First Ministers the jug needed a good clean after its big night out.

At Valhalla a week later, the golfer became the first UK player to win back-to-back majors.

Claiming victory and pocketing more than £1m, McIlroy said: "I didn't think in my wildest dreams I would have a summer like this."

It would not end there. After defending Europe's Ryder Cup title, Rory put his winnings to good use adding to his property portfolio by picking up a new house in Co Down.

There were rumours of a strained relationship with fellow Northern Ireland golfer Graeme McDowell when it emerged McIlroy was suing his former agency Horizon.

McDowell is still with the company, and revealed the legal action put "tension in the air".

McIlroy's quip that he was focusing on his game rather than romance also caught attention.

"Golf is my girlfriend and it's going to be that way for a while," he remarked.

It seems that vow is paying off for McIlroy, who has been tipped by former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie to carry on his winning form to 2015.

Monty says "it's a 100-1 shot but it's worth a punt" that Rory could win all four majors next year - making that six in a row.

Belfast Telegraph


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