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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn