An eventful few days in the life of golfer Rory McIlroy has not only witnessed the ending of his engagement to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki but also the capture of the prestigious BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth during the weekend. A final round 65 allowed him to win the first prize by one shot from Ireland’s Steven Lowry with third round leader Thomas Bjorn a further stroke back in third place. An observation of McIlroy’s emotions prior to the event would have questioned his ability to complete the four rounds.
McIlroy dated Miss Wozniacki for approximately three years and a wedding was planned for New York but in claiming that he wasn’t ready for marriage just yet, he ended the romance and decided to compete in the PGA event. Rounds of 69, 71, 69 and 65 on the notoriously difficult Wentworth course do not constitute the level of performance of a man fighting his demons and for claiming his first major title on a European golf course.
Indeed, but for a last round implosion by Swede Thomas Bjorn who began the final day with a five stroke lead, McIlroy may just have been content with a place money and some time away from the limelight. For now, he will have to adjust to being declared one of the favourites for the upcoming US Open at Pinehurst beginning on June 12th.
It will be difficult to ascertain whether his victory in the PGA can be attributed to a release of emotion following his personal problems, with the same mood potentially following him to the Pinehurst event. Yet he has displayed mental strength in the past and has also produced previous outstanding form in the USA.
McIlroy is a past winner of the US Open when he produced four sub-70 rounds to claim victory by eight strokes in 2011, and he also secured the US PGA trophy in 2012 by a similar margin of victory. Thus as a proven winner of Grand Slam events, he was entitled to be ranked as one the favourites for the 2014 US Open before recent events have been taken into account.
There has even been talk of McIlroy overtaking the injury plagued Tiger Woods in regaining the World number one ranking and there is no doubting that at the age of 25, he has the ability to assume such a mantle for a lengthy period. However, much can happen in three weeks.
A period of reflection will now follow plus a trip back to Northern Ireland to visit his mother. And then the golfing World will await the real reaction of McIlroy from his troubled personal life and whether he still retains the appetite to pursue his quest for further major prizes.