NZ Herald

15 May, 2024 08:08 PM4 mins to read

Rory McIlroy speaks during a news conference at the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Valhalla Golf Club. Photo / AP

Rory McIlroy - Figure 1
Photo New Zealand Herald

Rory McIlroy says he’s ready to play despite filing for divorce in the lead-up to the PGA Championship - the latest golf major of the year.

It was revealed yesterday that McIlroy filed for divorce after seven years of marriage, according to court records in Palm Beach County, Florida. McIlroy and his wife, Erica Stoll, had a storybook meeting during the Ryder Cup in 2012, began dating two years later and were married in 2017. They have one daughter, Poppy, born in September 2020.

McIlroy fronted media today ahead of tomorrow’s opening round at Valhalla Golf Club but no questions were allowed about 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,” a PGA staff member said at the start of the press conference.

About as close to the topic was a question asking “on a personal level, how are you doing?” to which the Northern Irishman responded “I’m ready to play this week.”

The petition for divorce described the marriage as irretrievably broken and asked that a prenuptial agreement signed about a month before their April 21, 2017, wedding be validated and enforced. The prenuptial agreement was sealed.

McIlroy’s attorney was listed as Thomas Sasser, the same attorney who represented Tiger Woods when his wife divorced him in 2010. According to reports, Rory McIlroy’s net worth is around US$216 million ($352m). He has earned at least $143m over the past 15 years on the PGA Tour.

“Rory McIlroy’s communications team confirmed today that a divorce has been filed. They stressed Rory’s desire to ensure this difficult time is as respectful and amicable as possible,” said a statement from his manager, Sean O’Flaherty.

McIlroy arrived at Valhalla on Tuesday. He has gone 10 years since winning a major, the last one at Valhalla in 2014 for the PGA Championship.

McIlroy and Stoll met under unusual circumstances. She worked for the PGA of America in 2012 during the Ryder Cup at Medinah in the Chicago suburbs, where McIlroy nearly missed his Sunday singles match because he said he forgot he was in the Central time zone.

Stoll arranged for a police escort to Medinah, and McIlroy barely arrived in time. He won his match over Keegan Bradley as Europe rallied to win.

McIlroy was dating tennis star Caroline Wozniacki at the time. They were engaged just over a year later, but then McIlroy abruptly broke it off over the phone.

He and Stoll began dating later that year. They were engaged in 2015.

McIlroy filed for the divorce a day after he won the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina, his second straight PGA Tour win and the 26th of his career. Asked if he planned to go straight to Valhalla on Sunday night, McIlroy said, “I’ll probably go home and just sort of reset, then head up to Louisville tomorrow night or Tuesday morning.”

The divorce filing comes amid chaos in golf created by the launch of Saudi-funded LIV Golf. McIlroy has been a central figure over the last two years, harshly criticizing LIV and then changing his views and pushing for some form of reunification.

He resigned from the PGA Tour board last November, then was involved in a plan to rejoin the board by replacing Webb Simpson. That move was met by resistance from other player directors. Instead, McIlroy was appointed to a committee that is negotiating with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia over potentially becoming a minority investor.

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