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
Rory McIlroy wants to make it business as usual as the BMW PGA Championship gets under way today but the two-time major winner admitted that might be difficult in the wake of his break-up with Caroline Wozniacki.
Having gone public yesterday with his decision to call off his wedding to the Danish tennis star, the 25-year-old world number 10 said he just wanted to “get my head into golf this week and concentrate on the tournament and try and do well”.
Just how realistic it is to be able to focus on his golf in the midst of such obvious personal turmoil, though, is open to debate and McIlroy said: “I’m not going to lie. It’s going to be very difficult. But you know, at least when I get inside the ropes, just try and concentrate on the shot at hand. But yeah, it’s obviously going to be difficult.”
As McIlroy said more than once yesterday, in his initial statement announcing the end of his almost three years dating Wozniacki and during his impressively handled pre-tournament press conference at Wentworth, there is no good time to end a relationship and that would particularly be the case in terms of his golf game right now.
McIlroy tees off at 1pm today alongside Jamie Donaldson of Wales and fellow major champion Ernie Els having turned the corner with his game after an annus horribilis in 2013.
Nine top-10 finishes this season and four in a row in his last four starts was beginning to make the winless previous season look a distance memory.
That was underlined by his most recent appearance, a tie for sixth place in The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass a fortnight ago, his best finish in the self-styled ‘fifth major’ on the PGA Tour on a course that had not previously been kind to the Irishman.
That boded well for McIlroy as he prepared for Wentworth, where he has missed the cut for two years in succession and struggled to repeat his tie for fifth place in 2009 since Els’ course changes in 2010.
Indeed, a journalist’s quip that even in his darkest hour at least he was coming to a course he loved raised the only laugh from an otherwise sombre McIlory during his press conference.
“I’ve enjoyed my times here. I think it’s a beautiful golf course,” the Holywood golfer said.
“I’ve got great memories of the place. I’ve struggled on the course personally since they made the changes.
“I’m trying to go in this week with the mindset of not getting frustrated and not... just trying to play to my spots and not be frustrated that I might only get to hit driver two or three times a round and feel like my advantage of my length is taken away from me.
“I’m just going to try, you know, just accept that you’ve got to plot your way around this golf course and not be overly aggressive. That’s really what I have to try and do
“You know, hopefully I can put in a performance that’s a little better than it has been the last few years.”
McIlroy’s desire to bury himself in his work as he attempts to get over his split with Wozniacki will not affect his current plans to play six tournaments in the next nine weeks, including The Irish Open at Fota Island Resort from June 19-22.
“My schedule right now is here, Memorial and US Open, Irish Open, Scottish Open, British Open. I don’t think that’s going to change,” he said.
A typical run for a international golfer spanning two majors and the pick of tournaments on either side of the Atlantic and while the once familiar sight of Wozniacki following his rounds from outside the ropes will be no more, keeping his personal life separate from his golfing game may be easier said than done for McIlroy.
“Look, I think I’m no different than anyone else,” he said yesterday, the closest he came to tears during his short press conference. “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 and that’s what I’m going to do.”