Rory McIlroy flirted with Meghan Markle and dumped fiance via phone call | Golf | Sport

Rory McIlroy‘s dating history has made plenty of headlines over the years, with his love life back in the limelight after filing for divorce from his wife. The 35-year-old filed court documents for the split on Monday after seven years of marriage to Erica Stoll, who he shares a three-year-old daughter with.

Express Sport takes a look at McIlroy’s past relationships, including dating his childhood sweetheart and romantic links with Meghan Markle…

Holly Sweeney

McIlroy began dating his childhood friend Holly Sweeney, now Holly Mason, when he was just 16 years of age. They were together for around eight years, with Sweeney by his side every step of the way on his journey to becoming one of the best golfers in the world.

He was clearly grateful for the support shown by his then-girlfriend, saying in 2011: “She knows me better than basically anyone else in this world does, apart from my parents, and someone like that with you is very grounding.”

The couple suddenly broke things off later that year, with McIlroy saying at the time that the split was ‘amicable’. Sweeney went on to wed hockey player Jeff Mason in 2016 and received a congratulatory message from her former partner when she announced that she was pregnant.

“I’m happy for her,” said McIlroy. “It’s great to see she’s happy.”

Caroline Wozniacki

Shortly after breaking up with Sweeney, McIlroy began to date tennis star Caroline Wozniacki after reportedly meeting her at a boxing match. They were together for three years before getting engaged in 2013 but things went south just a few months later when they announced they had split.

It was reported that McIlroy broke up with Wozniacki in a three-minute phone call just after they had sent out invitations to their planned wedding. He later explained that it was his decision to end the romance, saying: “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. I wish Caroline all the happiness she deserves and thank her for the great times we’ve had.”

McIlroy went on to confess that he struggled to deal with dating another sporting star, admitting in 2017: “I thought at the time that being with someone that was in a similar position to you was the obvious answer.

“But it isn’t, because you can never get away from it. You can never detach yourself and try to come back to the real world.”

Meghan Markle

McIlroy was romantically linked to Meghan Markle in 2014 after they were seen getting flirty in a video posted on social media. He helped the former Suits actress to participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge, a viral trend designed to raise money for ALS.

Markle later gushed over McIlroy on her blog, The Tig, writing: “He is a force who has the propensity to actually work hard and play hard, relishing intense practices to substantiate his title, embracing nights of sipping Opus One (his bold and impressive choice of wine) and indulging in group dinners at Cipriani for the balance, of course.

“And yet, beyond his work/play ethic, the most endearing quality of this man is his character, as real and honest as they come, appreciating a simple smile, never shunning a fan photo, enjoying a plate of pasta with veal ragu, and expressing a love for his parents that is rarely seen in men his age.

“Or at any age, to be honest. He is not just the real deal… he is real. And perhaps that is what makes him even more cherished.”

There was nothing concrete to suggest that McIlroy had ever dated Markle, with the Irish Mirror reporting in 2018 that they were ‘never more than friends.’

Erica Stoll

McIlroy met his current wife in 2012, with the pair being friends for some time before things turned romantic. They got engaged in 2015 before tying the knot the following year at a star-studded ceremony attended by the likes of Ed Sheeran, Stevie Wonder and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin.

Speaking about their relationship in a previous interview with the Irish Independent, McIlroy said: “The thing I love about it is that we were friends before anything romantic happened.

“We met when she was working for the PGA of America and renting a condo in Palm Beach, and I found it refreshing being with someone who was living a normal life rather than: ‘Oh! My jet is 30 minutes late’.

“I feel in such a good place now. I don’t feel Erica wants to change me in any way. I can be myself around her. There’s no bulls**t, no acting, no show.”

McIlroy and Stoll welcomed their daughter, Poppy, into the world in 2018 with the golfer describing her as the ‘absolute love of their lives’.

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