Rory McIlroy ‘ready to play’ as he focuses on major bid amid divorce proceedings

Rory McIlroy declined to make any comment on his impending divorce as he looks to turn his recent superb form into a long overdue fifth major title.

McIlroy filed for divorce from his wife Erica on the eve of the US PGA Championship at Valhalla, where he won the last of his four majors to date in 2014.

Court records show McIlroy submitted a “petition for dissolution of marriage” in Palm Beach County in Florida on Monday.

A spokesperson for McIlroy released a short statement on Tuesday which confirmed the news and “stressed Rory’s desire to ensure this difficult time is as respectful and amicable as possible. He will not be making any further comment”.

Members of the media attending McIlroy’s press conference at Valhalla on Wednesday were reminded of that statement and asked to respect McIlroy’s wishes, with a time limit of 10 minutes for questions also imposed.

The only question which touched on how he was feeling personally was met with a brief response of: “I’m ready to play this week.”

Before that, McIlroy had spoken of his recent victories in the Zurich Classic and last week’s Wells Fargo Championship, form which resembles that of 2014 when he won the Open at Royal Liverpool and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational before lifting the Wanamaker Trophy at Valhalla.

“I feel good,” McIlroy said. “Obviously had a great day on Sunday at a golf course that I’ve grown to love over the years and had a lot of success at, coming to a venue where I’ve had some success at before as well.

“Obviously get to go back to Quail Hollow every year. Don’t really get to come back here too much. Today was the first time I was on the golf course since 10 years ago, so it was good to refamiliarise myself with the place.

“The golf course is a little different than it was 10 years ago, a little longer. A couple little minor changes but for the most part pretty much the same that I can remember.

“Game feels good coming off the back of two wins, a fun one in New Orleans with Shane (Lowry) and then a really good performance last week. Just trying to keep the momentum going.

“Some of the shots that I hit last week, some of the three-quarter shots, some of the wedge shots, some of the iron shots, combined with how good I feel with the driver at the minute, that obviously gives me a lot of confidence.”

Despite that confidence, recent history suggests it will be an American player lifting the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday, with the last eight editions of the US PGA won by a home favourite.

McIlroy’s victory in 2014 was followed by one for Australia’s Jason Day 12 months later, but since then the list of winners reads Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas (twice), Brooks Koepka (three times), Phil Mickelson and Collin Morikawa.

Asked why European players had such a poor record in the event, McIlroy said: “If you think of quintessential American golf, I think golf courses that we go to for the PGA Championship are usually somewhat like these.

“I would say Kiawah was a little bit different, or maybe even somewhere like Southern Hills a couple years ago. But I don’t know if I can put my finger on it.

“It’s the same thing. I think G-Mac (Graeme McDowell) in 2010 was the first European player to win the US Open since Jacklin in 1970. These things are cyclical.

“I don’t know if I can put my finger on it but it’s a big golf course, thick rough, soft-ish greens. That seems to be more of an American style of play.”


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