Meet the McIlroys - Rory tees up family to host new love Erica
Rory McIlroy may have endured a nightmare on the golf course this week, but behind the scenes of his Irish Open meltdown the world number one has plenty to smile about.
Things are hotting up for Rory and his beautiful girlfriend, Erica Stoll, who jetted into Northern Ireland this weekend as Ireland's favourite sports star has taken his new love to meet the parents.
As first reported in the Sunday Independent, the pair began dating last year.
And eight months on, things show no sign of slowing down, as the Co Down star's new relationship has been given the seal of approval by his dad Gerry and mother, Rosie. The American beauty has already introduced Rory to her own family, and they are said to be over the moon that Erica, who is passionate about golf, has found someone she is so keen on.
Erica, who is a PGA (Professional Golfers' Association) employee, quietly arrived in the North last Thursday night to spend some time with her celebrity boyfriend.
Speaking last week, McIlroy gave a surprisingly candid insight into his relationship. "I am very happy in my love life," he said.
"We haven't really been putting it out there. She is from America, which is why I like to spend time in Palm Beach.
"The past six or seven months have been really nice. That part of my life is going great," he added.
Friends say Erica is keeping Rory grounded and in a good place, off the course.
A source told the Sunday Independent: "He is really happy with her now, when we last spoke, things seemed to be going really well.
"She is down to earth, his mates like her and - something small but I guess is really important - is that she is very low-key.
"She has a really small social-media presence, she keeps herself to herself and is quite a private person. Let's put it this way, it doesn't look like there will be any repeat of what went on in the past," the source added, in reference to the media circus that followed the golf star and his former fiancée, tennis star Caroline Wozniaki.
The golfer recently admitted being relieved the drama surrounding the former sport star couple's relationship was over.
"It has been a very deliberate policy, to be honest," he said. "What is it they say about learning from your mistakes? This is the way I want it from now on. I want to be known for my golf and that's it," the golfer said.
Rory, who is now the richest sportsman in Ireland, recently put his luxury home up for sale - with a £2.5m price tag. Robinhall, in Moneyreagh, Co Down - with its own private golf course, as well as a lake stocked with 1,200 trout, a tennis court, outdoor hot tub and cinema - won't be short of prospective buyers.
And now there is speculation that Rory is looking to settle down with his new love, and that the couple are looking for a new house to share as a base.
Rory and Erica were friends for two years before they started dating, which is said to have been an important part of their relationship developing into something more serious.
The quick-thinking 27-year-old famously came to the golfer's rescue at the Ryder Cup in October 2012, when she noticed he was not on site for the final day of the competition.
The Holywood man narrowly avoided missing disqualification after mixing up his tee time and was given a police escort to the course after the blonde beauty came to his rescue.