Rory McIlroy 'won't sacrifice family happiness for golfing success'
Rory McIlroy has admitted he could drive himself crazy in his pursuit of golfing glory - but insists he will never sacrifice his happiness for success.
The golfer from Holywood, Co Down, has already claimed four of golf's biggest prizes: the Open Championship (2014), the US Open (2011) and two PGA Championships (2012 and 2014).
The 27-year-old still has some catching up to do to break the record of the great Jack Nicklaus - who won 18 majors - but believes his quest for success does not have to come at the expense of a balanced lifestyle.
McIlroy is expected to marry fiancée Erica Stoll this year, the woman he credits for giving him the ability to be a "normal person" at home.
And in a candid interview with Paul Kimmage in yesterday's Sunday Independent, the world number two golfer said he believes he can keep winning majors without compromising his family life.
Reflecting on a quote from legend Nicklaus who talked about every golfer "finding the balance between ambition and sanity", McIlroy said: "Yeah, a lot of what he (Nicklaus) says resonates with me. Could you work harder? Yes. Could you spend 12 hours a day at the course? Absolutely. Would it make you any happier? No. And at the end of the day what do you want to be? There are certain goals I want to achieve: I want a career Grand Slam. I want to become the best ever European player, records-wise - (Nick) Faldo has that at the minute - and maybe get to double-digit majors. They are long-term goals, and of course I want to achieve them, but I don't want to sacrifice my happiness at the same time.
"But I definitely feel I can achieve those things and have a balanced life.
"He's (Nicklaus) the most successful golfer of all time - 18 major championships - but he also had the best balance between golf and family.
"He rarely spent more than two weeks away from home and, if he did, he'd make sure to spend the next two weeks at home - that was always his priority."
McIlroy also offered an interesting insight into Tiger Woods, the former world number one who won 14 majors between 1997 and 2008. Woods was once the world's most dominant athlete, adored by a public who have been left in shock over his dramatic demise in recent years.
"He's an intriguing character because you could spend two hours in his company and see four different sides to him," McIlroy said.
He added: "I've seen what his life is like in Florida. I've played golf with him and said: 'What are you doing tonight? Do you want to come and have dinner with us?'
"And he can't. He just can't. And for me that's unfathomable.
"I could not live like that. If someone was to say, 'You can have 14 majors and 70 wins but have to deal with that, or nine majors and 40 wins and stay somewhat the same as you are', I'd take the second option all day."