By Josh Powell | Open Championship
Women make men do a lot of crazy things. They melt credit cards, they make garden centres sound fun and they plant the seed that settling down seems like a brilliant idea.
But do they ruin golf careers?
Rory McIlroy started dating Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki in August 2011. After every poor result the media blamed the relationship for taking away his focus. Even six-time Major winner Nick Faldo whipped out the wooden spoon to stir the debate ahead of the Open.
Rather than hampering McIlroy though, it appears getting freaky between the sheets might actually improved his game, or at least didn’t do it any harm. At the tail-end of 2011 he finished in the top 10 in seven of the eight tournaments he competed in. He won the Hong Kong Open, and collected more than £1.33 million in just four months. Now that’s some honeymoon period.
If anything, it is her career that has plummeted since the two started going at it. Wozniacki was world number one, comfortably making more than £1.5 million every year and winning tournaments. Since getting jiggy with the Mac-Attack she has not broken the £1 million mark over the course of a year and won just two tournaments from 42. That’s a success rate of just five per cent, compared to her 23 per cent success rate between January 2009 and August 2011.
Wozniacki sank from world number one to as low as 11th in the rankings late last year, and has made just one final from 15 tournaments in 2013. Rory however, has been fighting Tiger Woods for the number one spot for the best part of 12 months and has never been lower than third in the world since he started dating Woz.
The myth conjured up by critics that McIlroy’s lack of concentration on the course is down to his irritating missus is not completely unfounded though, after a mini slump in 2012. He missed four cuts in five events including the US Open, but bounced back to win the USPGA and pocket £7.28 million for the season. He came in the top 10 in 66 per cent of the 24 events he played, proving he was as smooth on the greens as he was with Wozniacki.
It is quite possible that the blossoming relationship did take away both players’ focus. It’s not easy to concentrate on your sand wedge when you’re waiting for the next kinky text to come through, and there’s no surprise that a few baseline returns went long after a heated argument about who left the immersion on.
But it might be the case that Woniacki was distracted by her music career. She released charity single ‘Oxygen’ in 2012 while she plummeted 12 places in the world rankings. It probably would have been wiser to concentrate on court form rather than chasing a man around town with your trusty dog as side-kick.
If golf experts are to believed, Rory can’t control where his balls are going…but that’s nothing to do with Wozniacki. McIlroy’s relationship with sponsors Nike appears to have been more detrimental than his relationship with Woz. The new gear isn’t to the world number two’s fancy but a 10-year-deal means it looks set to last longer than a short fling.
McIlroy has been outside the top 25 in 54 per cent of tournaments this year and it might make more sense to blame the equipment rather than a few lovers’ tiffs. After all it isn’t the head of Nike waiting for him at the house when he gets back from the clubhouse.