Swashbuckling Rory is No 1 inspiration for proud girlfriend Caroline
Published 26/11/2012 | 05:00
RORY McIlroy has not settled on a Christmas present for girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki – but the Danish tennis ace last night thanked her Irish Tiger for one precious gift in Dubai.
Wozniacki (22) was thrilled by the swashbuckling, five-birdie finish which clinched victory for McIlroy at the DP World Tour Championship.
As she shared one of McIlroy's proudest moments with his mum Rosie and dad Gerry and snapped pictures of the Holywood star at the presentation ceremony, Wozniacki said she found his never-say-die spirit to be inspirational.
"Definitely," she smiled. "It's great to see him doing so well and never giving up."
Wozniacki believes McIlroy (23) has "matured a lot over the last year or two" into a great champion, adding: "It's been amazing to see him become such a great player. He'll keep going for a long time."
She had to be cajoled into joining McIlroy on the 18th green for pictures with the two giant trophies he collected yesterday, saying modestly: "I have not won anything today."
After his final round of 66, McIlroy publicly thanked Wozniacki for her support, suggesting: "I seem to win or do very well in any tournaments Caroline attends, so maybe I can persuade her to come to a few more."
Of course, former World No 1 Wozniacki's own competitive schedule does not allow her get to as many of McIlroy's tournaments as she'd like.
"If I didn't have a job myself, I might have come out a few more weeks," she smiled. "It's difficult but we're making it work and it's working well."
She mischievously took the microphone during McIlroy's post-round press conference last Thursday and asked what gift he'd buy her for Christmas if he won on Sunday.
The €1.041m cheque McIlroy collected for winning yesterday's tournament and the €781,091 bonus he earns for finishing first in the European Tour's season-long Race to Dubai, boosted his on-course earnings in 2012 to a staggering €11.9m.
That's more than Wozniacki, a 20-times winner on the women's tennis tour, has earned in her career.
With a $200m-plus contract from Nike in the offing, money certainly won't be a problem when McIlroy eventually gets down to choosing her an extra-special gift this Christmas.
Over the weekend, he said he'd not made up his mind, insisting: "There's plenty of time yet."
Wozniacki felt the sweltering heat in the Dubai desert yesterday, chiding herself for wearing an all-black ensemble: "That was a great outfit I picked for myself today."
She did sterling work all week in helping to nurse McIlroy back to full fitness as he struggled with a viral infection and a fever.
"Rory's been sick for the last few nights," explained Wozniacki, who had a cough herself. "He was really bad last night, terrible. It was the worst he was but when he got up this morning, it was quite good. It was just the Tylenol, I guess."
Now his season is over, McIlroy becomes the spectator.
He travels with Wozniacki to Aspen, Colorado, and Sao Paulo, Brazil, over the next couple of weeks to watch her play exhibition matches. After a few days home for Christmas, he'll join her at the Brisbane Open, one of the warm-up events for January's Australian Open.
McIlroy will then return to Dubai on January 6 to prepare for his first event of the new season, the Abu Dhabi Championship, in which he squares up to Tiger Woods.