Rory McIlroy 'purring' for Amanda Balionis as pair's 'unusual' relationship intensifies

Romance rumours linking Rory McIlroy and CBS sports journalist Amanda Balionis have surfaced
-Credit: (Image: CBS)

CBS Sports' broadcaster Amanda Balionis had Rory McIlroy 'purring' during a recent interview at the RBC Canadian Open, body language expert Judi James claims.

Following his split from wife Erica Stoll after seven years of marriage, just before last month's PGA Championship, McIlroy has been linked with CBS reporter Balionis. Despite being married to ex-NFL quarterback Bryn Renner, Balionis has taken off her wedding ring and returned to using her maiden name. A US Weekly report ahead of the PGA Tour event in Hamilton last week claimed that McIlroy and Balionis maintain merely a 'professional relationship', downplaying any romantic ties. Neither party has spoken out about the speculation.

Yet, their supposed connection was thrust into the limelight again on Sunday when Balionis interviewed McIlroy after his six-under-par 64 final round at Hamilton Golf and Country Club. They seemed comfortable together during the interview, with James observing that Balionis employed a method known as 'ego-stroking' on McIlroy. Speaking to Mirror Sport, James explained: "The body language behaviour here would be described as 'stroking' or 'ego-stroking' which means Balionis is using enough flattering signals on McIlroy to make him 'purr' which in turn means she gets a great interview with lots of chemistry every time.."

James revealed that it's often a common tactic for female broadcasters interviewing men in male-dominated sports. She said: "Many women presenters working in male-dominated sports use this technique. Non-sexual flirt rituals don't only get some of the guys paying them full attention and even eating out of their hands but it can also put the presenter in a position of control in the interview. Getting thoughts and snippets that the interviewee might have been more guarded about revealing."

McIlroy was seen grinning and chuckling during the post-round interaction, which James interpreted as the former world No. 1 'letting his guard down' in front of Balionis. "Balionis is clearly going for gold here when it comes to ego-stroking with her eye-attention, her nose-wrinkled smiles and her non-verbal nudges that look aimed at making McIlroy drop his guard and laugh. He is clearly lapping it up but playing coy. His cap brim is pulled over his face and he keeps his head down and avoids eye contact with Balionis. His smile makes him look like a shy schoolboy."

James did clarify that this sort of technique from Balionis could well be faux flirting known as 'sofa-chemistry' to help facilitate the interview in front of the camera. However, off-screen, McIlroy and the CBS reporter were then seen sharing a hug, an act James described as 'unusual'.

Rory McIlroy and Amanda Balionis
Amanda Balionis and Rory McIlroy -Credit:CBS

"It is rather unusual to hug the presenter after an interview as you are both mic'ed up and it's often the last thing a presenter wants in terms of mussing their hair or their make-up," she added.

"Rory has gone in for a quite intimate-looking hug here though, given the circumstances. His arm is around her and his face close to her although she does seem to be taking a more professional role, holding her hand mic out of the way with one outstretched arm."