Rory McIlroy opens up on his relationship with fiancee Erica Stoll

Rory McIlroy and tennis star Caroline Wozniacki went through a very public and abrupt breakup in 2014 after getting engaged the prior year, and in the latest part of a fascinating and wide-ranging interview with the Irish Independent, McIlroy explained why he believes the relationship with Wozniacki didn’t work out… and why he’s a perfect match for current fiancee Erica Stoll.

McIlroy and Wozniacki began dating in 2011 and announced their engagement at the very end of 2013. After the couple sent out wedding inviations, McIlroy reportedly broke off the engagement over a short phone call.

Just before winning the 2014 PGA Championship later that year, McIlroy said he believed the split helped his golf game, as it allowed him to focus solely on improving.

“Well, I think it has happened to me for the better. I’ve put a little bit more time into my golf and refocused me in a way. It’s the only thing ‑‑ not the only thing I have; I’ve got my family and my friends, but I just immersed myself in my game. I’ve practiced hard and I’ve done all the right things, and I’m reaping the rewards.”

McIlroy met his current fiancee, Stoll, in 2013 while she was working for the PGA. The couple will reportedly marry in Ireland after The Masters this year, and McIlroy told the Independent‘s Paul Kimmage that it’s easier for him to feel comfortable with a partner who isn’t also a celebrity.

“The thing I love about it is that [Erica and I] 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 could speak to her about anything, we ended up spending a bit of time together and realised that there was something more there. I love that she knows everything about me, and there was no judgement there. There was no judgement from day one, which is huge, because that’s very hard to find for someone in my position.

…. I thought at the time [during his relationship with Wozniacki] 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. And that’s why 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 [expletive], no acting, no show.”