Rory's curse, McIlroy attacks but he divorces

It's a tumultuous time for Rory McIlroy, with the pressure of a Major tournament compounded by personal turmoil

by Andrea Gussoni
Rory's curse, McIlroy attacks but he divorces
© Patrick Smith/Getty Images Sport

It's a tumultuous time for Rory McIlroy, with the pressure of a Major tournament compounded by personal turmoil. The news broke via TMZ that last Monday, the Northern Irish golfer filed for divorce from Erica Stoll at the Palm Beach courthouse in Florida, ending their seven-year marriage.

Rory McIlroy, results

Rory and Erica share a daughter, Poppy, who is nearly four years old. They met in 2012 at the Ryder Cup, where Erica worked for the organization. Their relationship grew closer in 2014, amidst Rory's decision to call off his wedding with Caroline Wozniacki, despite invitations already sent out.

Ironically, it was the same year Rory clinched his last Major victory. A decade has passed since that August, when the then 25-year-old triumphed at the PGA Championship at Valhalla, marking his fourth Major win after the 2011 US Open, the 2012 PGA Championship, and the 2014 British Open.

With four Majors at 25, speculation arose about how many more he could attain: 10? 12? Could he surpass Tiger Woods' 14 Majors or even Jack Nicklaus' record of 18? No one would have guessed he wouldn't add another one to his tally.

Now, at 35, there's a looming fear that his Major count might halt at 4. Over the past decade, he's played 35 Majors, securing three second-place finishes, numerous top-tier placements, yet enduring countless disappointments.

The Masters, the only Major missing from his career Grand Slam, has remained elusive. Despite the setbacks, his fans hold onto hope, seeking significance in dates and milestones, yearning for a change in fortune. The parallels with 2014 are striking.

McIlroy faces the PGA Championship once again at Valhalla, Kentucky (from May 16 to 19), the same venue where he claimed victory in 2014. If there's a curse to be broken, could Valhalla be the place? Like in 2014, McIlroy enters the tournament fresh off wins at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans alongside Shane Lowry and at Quail Hollow the previous week.

He's in top form, feeling confident that the stars are aligning for him. Reflecting on his current state, McIlroy expresses faith in his abilities and a belief that replicating his 2014 performance is within reach. Off the course, the added stress of divorce further intensifies the pressure.

The past years have been challenging for McIlroy, especially amidst the divide between the PGA Tour and the LIV Golf conglomerate. He's emerged as a symbol of traditional golf values, almost an unofficial spokesperson for American interests.

However, last year's announcement of a potential partnership between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund left McIlroy feeling betrayed. Amidst the uncertainty surrounding the situation, McIlroy's tranquility has been disrupted.

In the competitive field at Valhalla, McIlroy faces formidable opponents, including Scottie Scheffler, who already secured a Major victory at the Masters earlier this year, and Brooks Koepka, the defending champion. Tiger Woods also returns to the scene, determined to defy expectations despite doubts surrounding his performance.

Francesco Molinari also joins the fray at the PGA Championship, expressing gratitude for the unexpected invitation. As he approaches the tournament with tempered expectations, Molinari remains focused on his game, hoping for a positive outcome.

As McIlroy navigates the challenges both on and off the course, the PGA Championship promises to be a captivating spectacle, with the golfing world eagerly watching his every move.

Rory Mcilroy