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Rory's love life is not the problem

Will TideyAugust 26, 2013
This was not the year Rory expected on the golf course © PA Photos

Despite global concerns, everything looks peachy in #wozzilroy world to me (see this for proof). But should we be concerned that the Rory McIlroy-Caroline Wozniacki romance has garnered a lot more attention than Rory's golf of late?

Is it time to resurrect the old 'unwelcome distraction' argument and cast Wozniaki as some kind of golfing Yoko Ono? Has their relationship come at the cost of McIlroy's continued evolution on a path to greatness?

Sir Nick Faldo hinted as much in July, when he said Rory needed to "focus on golf and nothing else". Rory didn't like that assessment - especially Faldo questioning his work ethic - but you wonder whether there was an element of truth to it.

It's not about the physical time McIlroy is spending on his game; it's about the mental time he's spending on things unrelated to it. This year he's split from the management company who launched him, signed an era-defining endorsement deal, bought a new house and continues to date one of the top female tennis players in the world.

For a normal 24-year-old, that's a lot to handle. Those combined factors have magnified the already intense scrutiny on Rory's private life and added to the demands on his time.

But let's remember McIlory is no normal 24-year-old. He's an athlete who has already shrugged off huge weight of expectancy to win two majors. He responded to sporting humiliation at Augusta to demolish the field at Congressional just two months later. He's played in two Ryder Cups.

© PA Photos

The mini-slump McIlroy is in now (no wins in 2013 so far) has been blamed on a lot of things, but maybe it's just a case of a young man adjusting to his new reality. So much has changed for McIlroy in the last two years that there was always going to be a lull like this - a period where his emotional development would need to catch up.

McIlroy has always been remarkably composed for his years, but he's no longer the young buck shooting for the stars; he's a double major winner worth millions whose every tweet is a potential headline.

There are those who say he'd be better off without Wozniaki, but I'm not one of them. There's no hiding for McIlroy now and nothing he needs more than a girl on his arm who adores him.

Faldo talked about getting rid of distractions, but Wozniaki is a distraction McIlroy needs. If she can take his mind off the complexities of the golf swing and free him to play like the born genius he is, it can only be a good thing.

All this worry will look awfully silly when Rory cleans up next year.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

Writer Bio

Will has covered Tour events. majors and Ryder Cups and interviewed the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Rory McIlroy. He once inhaled the cigar smoke of the coolest man in golf, Miguel Angel Jimenez, while watching sports cars tear around Brands Hatch. As a left-handed hacker he's been humiliated at esteemed venues including Carnoustie, Wentworth, Kiawah Island and Pinehurst No. 2.

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