GOLFER Rory McIlroy is claiming his first win of the new year – his engagement to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.
One of the top power couples in sport, they announced their engagement on Tuesday night on Twitter, which was New Year’s Day in Australia.
A spokesman for the Northern Irish star confirmed he popped the question in Sydney, where Wozniacki is starting to prepare for the Australian Open in Melbourne.
“Happy New Year everyone! I have a feeling it’s going to be a great year!! My first victory of 2014,” McIlroy tweeted. He added a hash tag, “She said yes!!”
Wozniacki sent out a similar tweet a few minutes earlier that said: “Happy New Year everyone! Rory and I started 2014 with a bang! … I said YES!!!!”
They included a collage of three photos – her engagement ring, a photo of them together and New Year fireworks over Sydney Harbour.
The announcement comes after two media reports last year claimed that the high-profile relationship was coming to an end and the couple were splitting up. They first began to see each other in the summer of 2011, shortly after McIlroy won his first major with a record-setting performance in the US Open at Congressional. They confirmed they were dating a few months later, and they were never shy about sharing their relationship on social media.
McIlroy changed his avatar on Twitter for the couple when Wozniacki was world No 1 and McIlroy was world No 2. That changed within six months, when McIlroy first ascended to No 1 in the world and Wozniacki began a steady decline down the WTA ranking. She now is No 10, while McIlroy goes into the 2014 season at No 6.
McIlroy is coming off a rough season in which he failed to meet enormous expectations while changing golf equipment. He also left his management company in an acrimonious split that is to be settled in court. The 24-year-old did not win a tournament until the Australian Open in December.
It was his first year of serious criticism, and McIlroy said it only got to him when it involved his personal life.
“I don’t care what people say about my golf,” he said. “It’s when people start digging into my personal life, that’s where it starts to annoy you – whether it’s Caroline, whether it’s management, all that stuff shouldn’t be a consequence to how I play my golf.”
When he was asked jokingly whether they broke up five or six times this year, McIlroy gave a hearty laugh and said: “Something like that.”
Wozniacki joined him at the World Challenge in California, and then they headed to south Florida and his new home for the first part of the holidays. He later went to Northern Ireland before heading to Australia.
Tweets of congratulations about their engagement began pouring in from fellow golfers Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Francesco Molinari.
McIlroy and Wozniacki are not the first high-profile golf and tennis partnership. Major winner Greg Norman and grand slam winner Chris Evert wed in 2008 – but divorced after 18 months.