What is it about Rory McIlroy and a certain blond?

McIlroy Attracts Following at TPC Boston, but Not All Are Watching Him
By KAREN CROUSE

Published: September 1, 2012

NORTON, Mass. — The willowy woman with the blond ponytail and
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis oversize sunglasses was standing outside
the gallery ropes Saturday morning at the T.P.C. Boston waiting for
Rory McIlroy to walk past when one man produced a tennis ball for her
to sign. He was followed by another fan with another tennis ball. She
obliged both with a smile while a bystander observing the scene from a
few feet away turned to a friend and asked, “Why the tennis balls?”

He appeared to be one of the few men walking along the third hole who
did not recognize McIlroy’s girlfriend, the Danish tennis player
Caroline Wozniacki, whose presence buoyed McIlroy’s gallery and his
game.

With fans following her as she followed him, McIlroy, the world No. 1,
carded his second consecutive six-under-par 65 to take a two-stroke
lead at the midway point of the tournament, which is the second leg of
the FedEx Cup Championships. McIlroy is one stroke ahead of Louis
Oosthuizen (65) and two in front of Tiger Woods and Ryan Moore, who
each carded 68s.

“It’s great to have her support out here,” McIlroy said of Wozniacki,
who was free to follow him after being upset in the first round of the
United States Open in New York. “I think everyone would still love her
to be in New York, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case.”

It was one of McIlroy’s few misreads during a round that featured six
birdies and an eagle (and back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 2 and 3). In his
gallery were dozens of fans, almost all male, who were ostensibly
watching McIlroy but who rarely took their eyes off Wozniacki, who
walked the course alongside McIlroy’s coach, Michael Bannon. According
to McIlroy, this is the fourth week this year that Wozniacki has been
able to join him during a tournament. Hasn’t he noticed he has more
young men in his galleries on those occasions?

“I haven’t,” he said, smiling. “But thanks for pointing that out.” And
then McIlroy laughed.

The high-profile couple, McNiacki, is refreshingly low-key. McIlroy,
23, rolls with the inevitable questions about their relationship,
which began shortly after they met at a boxing match and began
following each other on Twitter. After his first round, McIlroy said
her knowledge of golf had improved in the 13 months they had been
together.

“She was even giving J. P. a little bit of grief,” McIlroy said,
referring to his caddie, J. P. Fitzgerald. “I airmailed the green at
the first. We came off, and she went, ‘Nice club, J. P.’ ” He laughed.
“Yeah, it’s good.” He added, “It seems like every time she comes
along, I play well, so it would be nice to get her here more often.”

On the first hole, his 10th of the day, McIlroy drained an 18-foot
birdie putt after making an 11-foot eagle putt at No. 18, to reach
minus 12. As he walked off the green, he locked eyes with Wozniacki,
who had positioned herself in his sightline, and gave her a luminous
smile.

At No. 2, a par 5 that was playing 558 yards, McIlroy was in the
fairway after his drive, with 241 yards between him and the pin. He
had 219 yards to the front of the green. For McIlroy, it was a tricky
distance, requiring something from a 3-iron to a 5-wood. He chose the
wood and tried to aim left, but the ball veered right and landed in a
water hazard. “I just came out of it a little bit,” he said.

After taking a one-stroke drop, McIlroy was eyeing his fourth shot
when, several yards away, two brothers from Maine, Nicholas and Derek
Reny, approached Wozniacki and asked if she would pose for a
photograph with them.

She lifted her sunglasses and smiled for the smartphone camera. She
also signed their grounds passes. After the round, they were hoping to
add McIlroy’s signature. Whose autograph had they wanted more?
“Caroline’s definitely,” the brothers replied in unison.

“Because Caroline just is so approachable,” Nicholas Reny said. “She’s
in a major spotlight with Rory, but she holds her own.”

Wozniacki, 22, who came into the 2011 United States Open ranked No. 1
in the world, has fallen to No. 9. She retired from her semifinal
match in New Haven, her final Open tuneup, with an injury to her right
knee and played with the joint taped in her 6-2, 6-2, first-round loss
to Irina-Camelia Begu on Tuesday. At the par-4 sixth, Wozniacki, clad
in form-fitting workout pants and a white workout top, was standing by
the ropes when a fan slowed to ask, “How’s the knee doing?”

“It’s holding up,” she said.

“Good luck with it,” he said and continued walking.

McIlroy ended his round with four straight pars. As he was shaking
hands with the other players in his group, Jason Dufner and Zach
Johnson, a man’s voice rose from behind the grandstand: “Marry Me!”

Obviously, Wozniacki had not left the grounds. She met McIlroy as he
came off the green and they sat side by side on a cart that whisked
McIlroy to the scoring trailer to sign his scorecard. Their smiles
were so wide, they could have been taping a toothpaste commercial.

“It’s nice having her here,” McIlroy said a few minutes later,
standing outside the press room. “I can completely switch off between
rounds. I don’t even think about golf.”