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

Wentworth

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.

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum