HomeGolfNervous McIlroy tight-lipped on divorce in tightly controlled media appearance in Lousiville...

Nervous McIlroy tight-lipped on divorce in tightly controlled media appearance in Lousiville – News – Irish Golf Desk


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Rory McIlroy had a quiver in his voice throughout as questions about his private life were banned in his brief media conference ahead of the PGA Championship at Valhalla.

Less than 24 hours are news broke that he had filed for divorce, the world number two was spared interrogation from the press by the PGA, who insisted he would not be commenting on his private life.

“I believe you all saw the statement yesterday from Rory’s communication team specifically that he will not be making any additional comments on his private life, so thank you all for respecting his wishes,” the PGA invigilator said at the start of a scheduled 10-minute conference that produced just seven questions from the floor and lasted just under nine minutes.

The only question that came close to broaching the subject of McIlroy’s decision to split from his wife of seven years, Erica Stoll, produced the shortest answer of the briefing.

Asked about his energy levels, “and just on a personal level, how are you doing?”, McIlroy  paused briefly and said curtly: “I’m ready to play this week.”

He’s one of the favourites to end his 10-year major drought and believes he’s ready finally get over the line, despite his off-course turmoil, after winning his second tournament in a row with an impressive performance in the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday.  

“I feel good,” said McIlroy, who was shadowed inside the ropes at Valhalla during his morning practice round by his father, Gerry.

“Obviously had a great day on Sunday at a golf course that I’ve grown to love over the years and had a lot of success at, coming to a venue where I’ve had some success at before as well

“Obviously get to go back to Quail Hollow every year. Don’t really get to come back here too much. Today was the first time I was on the golf course since ten years ago, so it was good to refamiliarise myself with the place.

“The golf course is a little different than it was ten years ago, a little longer. A couple little minor changes but for the most part pretty much the same that I can remember from ten years ago.

“But yeah, look, game feels good coming off the back of two wins, a fun one in New Orleans with Shane, and then a really good performance last week. Just trying to keep the momentum going.”

Long straight driving will be at a premium this week and McIlroy certainly believes he has the edge in that department following his performance at Quail Hollow and can “play with freedom” this week.

“I think this is a golf course that allows you to play with freedom because it’s a big golf course,” he said.

“The corridors are wide, not too dissimilar to last week at Quail Hollow, so you can open your shoulders up off the tee and try to take your chances from there.

He admitted he was still frustrated by the slow progress in the negotiations between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and said the decision by Jimmy Dunne, the chief architect of last June’s Framework Agreement, to resign from the Board was a concern.

“Honestly, 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 been really unfortunate that he has not been involved for the last few months, and I think part of the reason that everything is stalling at the minute is because of that.

“It’s really, really disappointing, and I think the Tour is in a worse place because of it. We’ll see where it goes from here and we’ll see what happens.

“But you know, I would say my confidence level on something getting done before last week was, you know, as low as it had been and then with this news of Jimmy resigning and knowing the relationship he has with the other side, and how much warmth there is from the other side, it’s concerning.”

Americans have lifted the Wanamaker Trophy every year since Australia’s Jason Day succeeded McIlroy as PGA champion in 2015.

McIlroy reckons that’s because it requires US-style golf, but he’s unsure why Europeans only two Europeans — himself (in 2012 and 2014) and Pádraig Harrington— have won the title since the strokeplay era began in 1958.

“I mean, I think if you think of quintessential American golf, I think golf courses that we go to for the PGA Championship are usually somewhat like these,” he said.

“I would say Kiawah was a little bit different, or maybe even somewhere like Southern Hills a couple of years ago. But I don’t know if I can put my finger on it.  

“I think G-Mac (Graeme McDowell) was the first European or the first British player to win the U.S. Open since (Tony) Jacklin in 1970.  

“These things are cyclical. I don’t know if I can put my finger on it but just, you know, it’s a big golf course, thick rough, soft-ish greens. That seems to be more of an American style of play.”

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