The new love interest in Rory McIlroy's life -- golf
Willie Grace | 7/16/2014, 8:43 a.m. | Updated on 7/16/2014, 8:43 a.m.
Rory McIlroy has a smile on his face again, and it is all to do with a new love in his life -- golf.
After reams of column inches devoted to his split with fiancée Caroline Wozniacki, the two-time major champion has decided to go back to basics in order to fill the void.
As he heads for the third major of the year -- The British Open in Liverpool that begins Thursday -- he's been busy stalking the links courses of his native Northern Ireland and rekindling his passion for the game.
"I've sort of fallen in love with golf again," the current world No. 8 told CNN's Living Golf show.
"I'm a golfer first and foremost and the last month or so I've really buried my head in my golf game.
"Golf is my first passion and my first love and it's great to be able to spend days playing and remember where you started again, remembering those rounds at Holywood Golf Club," he added referring to his local club in Northern Ireland.
"Just remembering the love and the joy you have for the game. I feel like I've found that out these last few weeks."
The 25-year-old's decision to call off his planned wedding to Danish tennis star Wozniacki predictably sparked a maelstrom in the press.
Two high profile sporting stars, known the world over, ending their engagement just days after wedding invitations had been issued became headline news.
A bereft looking McIlroy fronted up at Wentworth ahead of the BMW PGA Championship in May merely hours after the news broke, and promptly won the European Tour's flagship event.
That triumph represented his first big win on European soil, his other victories on the Tour coming either in the Middle East or Asia.
The 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 U.S. PGA champion spoke of the "sanctuary" the course offered away from all the questions about his state of mind and emotional well-being.
And a large chunk of his time since has been spent honing his game on the links courses of his homeland in preparation for his assault on another prestigious crown -- The British Open.
Despite being brought up on courses similar to the one he'll try to tame at Royal Liverpool in the 143rd incarnation of golf's oldest major, McIlroy has struggled to make an impression since 2010.
But that is something he is determined to change this time around.
"I feel like my record in the British Open hasn't been great," he explained.
"It's important to prepare to play links golf, to know the course as much as you can.
"I finished third at St Andrew's in 2010 but apart from that I haven't done much. I want to really put all I can into it and try and compete this year.
"I don't want to curse my luck but it was incredibly windy on the Friday afternoon (at St Andrew's, where McIlroy followed up his opening round of 63 with a second round 80).