By Flint Wheeler
Rory McIlroy is adjusting well to single life. The same can’t be said of his former fiancée, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.
On Sunday, days after calling off his engagement to Wozniacki with the wedding invitations still in the mail, Mcllroy won his first event since the split, taking home the European Tour’s prestigious BMW PGA Championship.
Then on Tuesday, Wozniacki crashed out of the opening round of the French Open. The 13th-seeded Wozniacki lost 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-2 to 64th-ranked Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, the former world No. 1′s first ouster in the first round at Roland Garros since 2007.
“I don’t really want to talk about my personal life. I hope that you all can understand that,” she said, with her hand on her chest. “The only thing I really have to say is that, you know, thank everybody for their support and sweet messages.
“What happens in my personal life, I just want to really keep that between my closest people around me. You know, I just have to move on.” Wozniacki explained after her early exit of this week’s French Open.
McIlroy announced the breakup of the three-year relationship in an emotional press conference last week. A source explained McIlroy’s rationale to Page Six’s Emily Smith: “Rory’s game hasn’t been as consistently good in the time he’s been with Caroline. He was a young guy in love and was flying around the world to see her play in tournaments or meet up with her. He was missing practice rounds. It was a distraction.”
Those distractions appeared absent as McIlroy made up a seven-stroke deficit on the final day of the tournament in Wentworth, England.
“There are definitely mixed emotions and, given all that’s gone on and starting seven shots behind, I’m sitting here with the trophy wondering how the hell it’s happened,” McIlroy told the Daily Mail. “Somebody asked me how I feel, and the truth is I don’t exactly know. I mean, I’m thrilled I’ve won obviously, but it’s been a weird week.”
McIlroy’s one-shot victory over Shane Lowry after starting Sunday’s finale seven shots back of 54-hole leader Thomas Bjorn ended a turbulent week on a high note, after the ex-No. 1 announced he had called off his wedding to tennis’ formerly top-ranked female player. An unidentified “source” told the New York Post that the relationship was a “distraction” to McIlroy’s career, echoing a warning that NBC broadcaster Johnny Miller gave almost a year ago and golf legend Gary Player repeated when he warned the two-time major champ to find the “right wife.”
Whether that had anything to do with McIlroy’s decision, one of his peers believes the Ulsterman’s choice to break off his engagement was not a case of last-minute cold feet.
“My guess is that it wasn’t a decision to break up with Caroline which just came out of the blue,” Luke Donald, who finished tied for third at Wentworth, two shots back, told Tony Jimenez. “I’m sure it has been weighing on his mind for a while and maybe just getting it out released something.
“The raw emotions were still there this week but being out on the golf course, a place he’s familiar with, maybe he could forget those a little bit.”
Whatever the reason, McIlroy, who earlier in the week unplugged from social media and other computerized interferences, enjoyed the chance to leave his personal woes off the course.
“I guess when I got inside the ropes this week, it was a little bit of a release,” he told reporters after his final-round 6-under 66 gave him a 14-under for the week. “I was on my own and doing what I do best, which is playing golf, and that sort of gave me four or five hours of serenity or sanctuary or whatever you want to call it; just focusing on the job at hand which was to play golf and get the ball in the hole in the lowest number of shots possible.
“Yeah, I can’t explain it,” he added. “It’s obviously been a week of very mixed emotions, but I’m sitting here looking at this trophy going, how the hell how did it happen this week, but it did. A great way to end the week obviously.”