GOLFER Rory McIlroy has split from his tennis star fiancée Caroline Wozniacki – just days after sending out invitations for their wedding.
The 25-year-old Northern Irish champion insisted “the problem is mine” as he issued a statement via his agent yesterday, admitting he was not ready for “all that marriage entails”.
The couple, who have been together for three years, got engaged in Australia on Hogmanay despite rumours of a split earlier last year, and had sent out their wedding invitations just last weekend.
Danish tennis player Wozniacki, 23, a former world No1 on the WTA Tour, had not yet commented on the break-up last night.
In a statement, McIlroy said: “There is no right way to end a relationship that has been so important to two people.
“The problem is mine. The wedding invitations issued at the weekend made me realise that I wasn’t ready for all that marriage entails.”
He added: “I wish Caroline all the happiness she deserves and thank her for the great times we’ve had. I will not be saying anything more about our relationship in any setting.”
Just three days ago, he posted a picture of the view from the luxury Nobu restaurant in Monte Carlo, tagging his fiancée’s Twitter account in the photo. “Nice view for dinner with @CaroWozniacki!” he wrote. He also took to Twitter to joke about media speculation surrounding the date of his wedding, poking fun at the Dublin-based Irish Independent.
“I see the @Independent_ie have got it wrong … AGAIN!!! If they keep plucking dates from the sky they’ll get it right eventually haha!” he wrote.
The pair had been linked since 2011, the same year the golfer split from his childhood sweetheart, Ulster rugby cheerleader Holly Sweeney.
Posting matching pictures of themselves with a ring at New Year, he told his 1.8 million Twitter followers: “Happy New Year everyone! I have a feeling it’s going to be a great year!! My first victory of 2014 #shesaidyes!!”
As he prepared for his latest tournament, at the Wentworth course in Surrey, McIlroy said he wanted to concentrate on his golf but admitted he would find it hard to do so.
“Obviously [it’s] quite a difficult time for Caroline and myself, and I think the statement really said it all this morning,” he said.
“It was mutual and amicable and we both thought it was the best for us, the best for both of us. Time to move on and I think I’ve said all that I need to say.”
McIlroy had only recently spoken of his delight in meeting up with Wozniacki in London after competing in the Players Championship a couple of weeks ago. Wozniacki had been due to compete in an event in Rome but withdrew to meet up with him.
The pair have both been the top-ranked player in their respective sports, but Wozniacki has not won a major title. McIlroy won his first major at the 2011 US Open, and then added another a year later at the US PGA Championship.
Last year the golfer suffered a slump in form and ended his equipment contract with Titleist. He started 2013 as No1 in the world rankings and in January signed a ten-year contract with Nike rumoured to be worth £150 million.
McIlroy was also involved in a lengthy legal dispute last year after splitting from his management team and was embroiled in a disagreement with American sportswear company Oakley.
Tiffany Wright: Commitment to a person, not just a wedding
Caroline Wozniacki has had a raw deal here. This poor woman has been planning her dream wedding, not realising that her husband-to-be has been getting cold feet.
However, Rory McIlroy is not the only one in this situation. Many couples get swept up in the planning of a wedding without really sitting down and thinking about the commitment they are making. The fun is in organising the party – telling their friends about the proposal, enjoying picking out colour schemes and wedding outfits and working out which friends they want to invite.
For them, the intensity of it has been so much more than for an ordinary couple as everything they do is in the public eye.
But when it comes down to it, a marriage is a lifelong commitment to another person, not just a wedding, and it may be that something as simple as sending out the wedding invitations – seeing it written down there in cold, hard print – brings it home to them what a huge step they are taking.
Rory has obviously realised that he is not ready to take this step. After all, he is only 25, she is 23 and they are both very young to be making such a huge commitment. At least in his case, he has discovered this at the point that the invitations have been sent out – he has not waited until they are standing at the altar to decide that he doesn’t want to go through with it.
It does seem to be very sudden – after all, it was only a few days ago that they were tweeting about enjoying a romantic meal together and joking about the media speculation surrounding their wedding date – but it is often easy to use social media to cover up doubts you might be having about anything.
I just hope they can now both move on and deal with their separation without too much public scrutiny.
• Tiffany Wright is a proposal planner and romance expert