PGA Championship 2014: Rory McIlroy’s roller-coaster life takes another lurch after he breaks off Caroline Wozniacki engagement

Split with Wozniacki brings emotional test but tournament may prove welcome distraction


Agony aunt was probably not the role envisaged by the Class of ’99 when they hauled their clubs out of the boot at Wentworth on Wednesday to contest the BMW PGA Championship pro-am with devout Manchester United fan Rory McIlroy.

Little in the life of McIlroy is straightforward. Days after sending out the wedding invitations McIlroy was telling the world it was over with his betrothed, Caroline Wozniacki. Listeners to the BBC Radio 4 drama The Archers will know of the emotional devastation wrought when love comes tumbling down with the altar in sight.

Like Tom Archer, it was McIlroy torching the nuptials. It is not clear how much of his turmoil was known to his playing partners. Phil Neville has enough on his plate contemplating an uncertain future as coach following the appointment of Louis van Gaal as United manager. The shoulders of Peter Schmeichel and Teddy Sheringham are broad enough but perhaps not obvious resting places for tortured souls.

McIlroy was evidently struggling when he was paraded on the first tee for the afternoon shotgun start. From one ordinarily fluent in the art of pre-tournament small talk, there were lots of strained smiles and shoulder shrugs as the cameras zoned in on the sons of United. It was a relief almost to put the ball down on the tee and get one airborne – and he cleared the bunker on the right, too.

McIlroy released a statement on Wednesday morning in which he said: “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 we’ve had.”

Later, at an emotional press conference here, he added: “Obviously, it is a difficult time for Caroline and myself. It was mutual and amicable and we both thought it was the best for both of us. Time to move on.  I just want to get my head into golf this week and concentrate on the tournament and try to do well.

“I’ve been playing well,” the Northern Irishman added. “The form’s been good. I just want to dive straight into it and keep myself somewhat busy and just try and have a good week on the course.

“I’m not going to lie. It’s going to be very difficult. But you know, at least when I get inside the ropes, [I can] just try and concentrate on the shot at hand. I think I’m no different than anyone else. Everyone has been through break-ups and it’s obviously very, very difficult. But look, I’m here to try and concentrate on this week and answer questions about golf.”

Typically, there was no attempt to manage the timing of an announcement which shifts the agenda from the back pages to the front. If McIlroy were more calculating he might have delayed the news until next week and spared himself the scrutiny that comes with the biggest golf tournament in Britain outside the Open Championship. But that is not his way. McIlroy is consumed by the issue and felt that it was pointless to fight the impulse to declare his hand.

Luke Donald is another player with domestic matters on his mind. His third child is due next month and there was much sympathy for the plight of his friend and Ryder Cup team-mate. “We all know how hard this game is when you have a clear mind,” said Donald. “I can’t imagine what’s going through his mind now.

“I’m as surprised and shocked as I’m sure you guys are,” he added. “Any time you have personal issues clouding your mind and you’re trying to play golf, it becomes very difficult. Sometimes being on the golf course can be a little bit of a break away from that, but most of the time it’s very hard to separate those two things. Obviously, I wish them both the best.”

There must be something in the Virginia Water. McIlroy has missed the cut here three times in six appearances, including last year at the height of his on-course difficulties.

At least there was no award ceremony to attend to extend his agony as there was 12 months ago, when he was presented with the 2012 European Tour Player of the Year pot immediately after missing the cut.

And so the jilted fiancée is added to the list of incendiary twists that have attended McIlroy’s short career. He appears to be on a volcanic trajectory that forbids an easy life and presently features litigation in Dublin with a management company over the terms of another kind of split that he initiated.

Add to that walking off the course mid-round during a slump in form that was triggered by his £75m switch to Nike, two overwhelming major victories and one epic collapse at the Masters. All this and he is barely more than two weeks into his 26th year. Ye gods.

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Life and Style
Emoji are rapidly becoming the language of the internet
techWhy internet acronyms are being driven out by emoji
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before