McIlroy confident in game, 'ready to play' PGA

golf15 May 2024 19:08| © AFP
article image
Rory McIlroy © Gallo Images

Rory McIlroy was silent about his divorce plans but confident in his golf game on Wednesday at the PGA Championship, where he seeks his first major triumph in a decade.

Tee Times | Course Guide | Win with Steyn City

A day after news broke of his Monday divorce filing from Erica, his wife for the past seven years, McIlroy made his first public comments, saying only when asked about his energy and personal state, "I'm ready to play this week."

World No 2 McIlroy's shock break-up brought into question his status among the favourites at Valhalla, the course where the 35-year-old from Northern Ireland won his most recent of his four major titles 10 years ago.

"Today was the first time I was on the golf course since 10 years ago, so it was good to refamiliarize myself with the place," McIlroy said.

"A little longer, a couple little minor changes but for the most part pretty much the same that I can remember from 10 years ago."

McIlroy tees off Thursday morning hoping to maintain the momentum off a victory on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Championship, his fourth career triumph at Quail Hollow, and a PGA Tour pairs victory last month in New Orleans alongside Irish pal Shane Lowry.

"Just trying to keep the momentum going," McIlroy said. "I think it's all about confidence and momentum and I have a lot of confidence and quite a bit of momentum coming into this week."

McIlroy also carries more than his usual share of turmoil given his personal split.

Erica Stoll was working for the PGA of America when she met McIlroy in 2012 at the Ryder Cup and they began dating in 2015, becoming engaged in December 2015 while on holiday in Paris and marrying in April 2017 at an Irish castle.

Their three-year-old daughter, Poppy, was born in 2020.

McIlroy had previously dated Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki from 2011 to 2014. They became engaged on December 31, 2013, but McIlroy announced in May 2014 that he had ended the engagement.

Lest anyone think McIlroy cannot cope with personal emotions and top golf rivals, he won four days after the breakup with Wozniacki at Wentworth on the European Tour.

In the following three months, McIlroy went on to win the 2014 British Open, the WGC Bridgestone Championship at Firestone and the PGA Championship at Valhalla.

McIlroy said his game is in a strong place based on technical form and shotmaking.

"Some of the shots that I hit last week, some of the three-quarter shots, some of the wedge shots, some of the iron shots, combined with how good I feel with the driver at the minute, and those wedge shots going and starting on the right line, that gives me a lot of confidence," he said.


McIlroy spoke about the PGA Tour merger talks with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), the backers of LIV Golf, and Monday's resignation of Jimmy Dunne from the Tour Policy Board.

Dunne complained about lacking a role in the negotiations shortly after the formation of a transaction subcommittee for direct talks that included McIlroy but not Dunne.

"I think it's a huge loss for the PGA Tour, if they are trying to get this deal done with the PIF and trying to unify the game," McIlroy said.

"Jimmy was basically 'the' relationship, the sort of conduit between the PGA Tour and PIF.

"It's really unfortunate he hasn't been involved for the last few months and part of the reason that everything is stalling at the minute is because of that."

McIlroy said his confidence level for a deal getting done was "as low as it had been" before and now "it's concerning."