Around May 21 this year, Rory McIlroy made a phone call that was to cost Adam Scott the World No. 1 golf ranking.
Scott had only secured the top spot three days earlier. For Australian fans, it had been a loooong 16-year wait for one of our own to hold the mantle of world’s top golfer.
Nothing could dampen our mood. Certainly not the decision by the game’s 10th highest ranked player to call off his nuptials to Danish tennis ace Caroline Wozniacki.
Sure, we may have questioned McIlroy’s sense of timing, getting cold feet just days after sending out the wedding invitations, and his style of communication, apparently dialling in his change of heart.
We might have soaked up the added detail that, coming as it did barely a day after McIlroy told his betrothed how much he loved her, she thought he was kidding when he said it was all off.
And we might have reflected on how McIlroy could break up with Wozniacki at the drop of a hat, including seven months previously when she tweeted an unflattering picture of him asleep, bespectacled and mouth agape under the caption: “Jetlag? Lol.” Yes, this one.
But for us this was mere titillation. We couldn’t have foreseen the devastating impact this latest split would have, other than to the heart of the jilted bride. Had we known Scottie would be collateral damage, we’d have taken it much more seriously.
“Time to move on,” McIlroy told the world’s media at the time. And didn’t he what?
Clearly able to play through the pain, he won a tournament that very week. Since then, he has notched up consecutive wins at the British Open and last week’s World Golf Championship in Ohio.
With his last victory, he also snatched the top ranking from Scottie’s clutches.
Now he’s just added the PGA Championship to his trophy cabinet.
“I think it has happened to me for the better,” McIlroy says of his newly single status, while his ex struggles on the tennis court. “I guess, what else do I have to do? I get up in the morning, I go to the golf course, I go to the gym. It’s just my life at the minute, you know.”
OK, so he’s not going to win any United Nations awards for tact and diplomacy any time soon, or get himself a profile on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. And yes, he might have a most un-Irish lack of humour.
But right now, we have a much bigger problem that requires our attention.
Because last week Jack Nicklaus anointed McIlroy as the man most likely to break his record of 18 major victories.
A few years ago, Tiger Woods had the target well in his sights. Then Fornigate broke. He’s been stalled on 14 majors for the past six years.
“I think Rory has an opportunity to win 15 or 20 majors,” says Nicklaus.
Which is a big call, seeing Rory’s only won four.
It’s also a far cry from McIlroy’s ordinary form of last year – which some observers at least partly attributed to his relationship – when Nick Faldo warned the youngster to “concentrate on golf, nothing else.”
If McIlroy is to live up to Nicklaus’ prediction, it won’t leave many majors for anyone else.
But Down Under, we’re up for the challenge. We’re not going to give up the top ranking so easily. OK, we did, but we’re going to get it back. We’re taking up the gauntlet. We’re going to stop the rot.
How, you ask? Extra training for the Aussies? Tweak the swing? Putting practice? Diet? Exercise? Psychology?
Don’t be ridiculous. We’re getting Rory a girlfriend.