Rory McIlroy files for divorce from wife Erica as marriage ‘irretrievably broken’

Rory McIlroy files for divorce on eve of US PGA Championship
Erica Stoll and Rory McIlroy, pictured here at Augusta National in 2018, were married in 2017 - Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

Rory McIlroy has filed for divorce from his wife of seven years, Erica Stoll, after claiming their marriage is “irretrievably broken”.

The shock news was revealed here at the US PGA Championship, where starting on Thursday the world No 2 will attempt to win his first major in 10 years.

The 36-year-old McIlroy was seen on the range without his wedding ring, having been pictured wearing it during his final round of the previous weekend’s PGA Tour event.

Court documents seen by Telegraph Sport revealed that McIlroy submitted the paperwork on Monday in Florida, where he lives with Erica and Poppy, their three-year-old daughter. The pair have been married for seven years, with Erica often attending tournaments.

The three-page divorce petition also confirmed that McIlroy has asked the court to enforce the couple’s prenuptial agreement and to implement a shared parenting plan.

When contacted by Telegraph Sport, McIlroy’s representatives said: “Rory McIlroy’s communications team confirmed today that a divorce has been filed. They stressed Rory’s desire to ensure this difficult time is as respectful and amicable as possible. He will not be making any further comment.”

The pair met at the 2012 Ryder Cup in Chicago where Erica was working for the PGA of America and famously arranged a police escort to the course after he misread his tee-time for the Sunday singles. He made it to the course with minutes to spare and went on to beat Keegan Bradley as Europe pulled off the ‘Miracle at Medinah’.

Rory McIlroy and his wife Erica McIlroy - Rory McIlroy and wife Erica file for shock divorce on eve of PGA Championship
McIlroy and his wife Erica at last year's Ryder Cup Marco Simone Golf and Country Club near Rome, Italy - Getty Images/Brendan Moran

At the time McIlroy was in a relationship with former tennis world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki, although the Northern Irishman broke up with the Dane two years later, after the invites for their wedding had been sent.

The timing of Tuesday’s bombshell – first reported by US website TMZ – will inevitably remind many of the Wozniacki drama that came to light during the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Remarkably, after a teary press conference, McIlroy went on to win that week and followed it up with the best summer of his career when landing both the Open and US PGA.

The latter – the most recent of his four major successes – came at this Valhalla layout. He has suffered a number of close calls since but is coming into this event with renewed confidence after wins at his last two tournaments, including his five-shot win at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte on Sunday where he spoke about his ability to shut things out during competition.

“I think getting inside the ropes for that four or five hours or whatever it is a day, it’s a nice escape from everything else that’s going on in the world of golf,” McIlroy said.

“I don’t mind it; I’ve always been able to compartmentalise pretty well. I seem to for whatever reason play very good golf whenever I have a lot of stuff going on. I don’t know if I need that just to, when I get on the course, really focus on what I’m doing out there, but it seems to work.”

McIlroy was essentially talking about the ongoing LIV saga. From being the most outspoken critic of the Saudi-funded circuit he has, over the last six months, become vociferous in his belief that the PGA Tour must do a deal with the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund to unify the sport.

Last week, he revealed that his attempt to rejoin the Tour’s policy board – that will ultimately decide if a deal goes through – was blocked because of “a subset of people on the board that were maybe uncomfortable with me coming back on for some reason”. This is believed to include his friend Tiger Woods, who along with fellow player directors Patrick Cantlay and Jordan Spieth, are more hesitant when it comes to joining forces with PIF.

Rory McIlroy (left) and Tiger Woods will be playing in next week's PGA Championship
McIlroy and Tiger Woods will be at this week's PGA Championship - Getty Images/Harry How

If that has been a distraction that McIlroy has managed to conquer then naturally marital upheaval will be infinitely more distressing. The couple own a mansion in Jupiter, South Florida where their neighbours include Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald, basketball legend Michael Jordan and Woods himself.

Last year, Telegraph Sport reported that the family intended to permanently relocate to England in the next decade and it is understood a house is being built in the stockbroker belt in Surrey. What happens next is unclear, with McIlroy entering the meat of the season in which three majors take place in a 10-week spell, with the US Open at Pinehurst and the Open at Royal Troon following this week’s tournament.

McIlroy will be desperate to win a fifth major and so avoid completing a barren decade. His first challenge, however, will be his scheduled press conference at 3pm local time on Wednesday.

The next morning he will be in the glare again when teeing off in the first round alongside Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson in the group immediately behind that of Woods. This could be one of the most difficult and emotional rounds of his career.