RORY McIlroy has finally ended his relationship with his long-term girlfriend, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.
The world-class tennis player is said to be "absolutely devastated" by the Irish golfer's decision, having recently made her intentions clear that she wanted to give the relationship another go.
After the story originally appeared in the Sunday Independent, McIlroy denied the split in an attempt to placate his girlfriend and get the relationship back on track.
But although he tried his best, friends say, the golfer has finally mind his made up.
"Yes they are over. It's a difficult time for them both but it is for the best in the long run," a source told the Sunday Independent.
Friends say a photograph posted by Caroline on Twitter, which showed her boyfriend in a deep sleep, was one of the final straws for the number-one golfer.
One source said: "Rory was very upset by it and even Serena Williams pointed out – albeit in a joking way – it was a pretty mean thing to do."
The relationship ended days after the picture had been posted to millions of fans online. But friends say Caroline is still struggling to accept that the pair have split up.
"There were a lot of tears. She still has her profile picture on her social-networking site set as the two of them in happier times, but I can tell you the pair are no longer an item," a source told this newspaper.
"Rory has a lot of respect for Caroline and their time together was good, but he feels it's time to move on now. And he wishes her nothing but the best."
While Rory spent the week in Ireland having dinner with former American president Bill Clinton before playing a round of golf in Portmarnock with the one-time world leader, flanked by six secret service men, Caroline spent time lying low in Monaco as she tried to come to terms with the split.
In recent days, the tennis ace has tweeted some eyebrow-raising comments, including one in which she said she was trying to get "some aggression out" Rocky Balboa-style. The post appeared alongside a photograph of Caroline in a pair of boxing gloves. But fans still haven't cottoned on to the trouble bubbling in her personal life.
The tennis star also enjoyed a girls' night out in Copenhagen with a group of friends as she tried to get her mind off her relationship blues. In another posting, she cryptically tweeted: "Life is like Twitter. I just have to post what I feel, retweet the good memories, delete the drama and follow my dreams."
Meanwhile, the 24-year-old golfer has stayed clear of the social-networking site for two weeks, despite typically being an avid user of the forum. When contacted by the Sunday Independent, his new PR team said: "The Communications Clinic does not comment on Rory's private life." But they confirmed he is about to jet off to Asia this week, where he will spend up to two months. When reports originally surfaced that the pair had ended their relationship, McIlroy took to Twitter, saying informed sources were "wrong 99.9 per cent of the time".
However, he did not deny the split. After McIlroy's comment, Wozniacki responded to his tweet saying: "Ha ha. That's not a very good percentage. Lol (laugh out loud)."
The pair, who have been at the centre of media speculation about the state of their relationship since then, also put on a very public display of affection as they shopped in Manhattan late last month, holding hands and getting touchy feely with each other.
Twice that week, the couple wore the same matching pink sports shirts, as they hit stores like Burberry and Reiss.
In recent weeks, Wozniacki has not been shy about her love for the golfer. She recently gushed to her half-a-million-strong following that One Direction heart-throb Harry Styles and McIlroy could swap jobs.
"Went to see the One Direction movie with Rory McIlroy!" she wrote online.
"They have won me over! Harry Styles and Rory should swap jobs sometimes!"
Wozniacki added the hashtag 'lookalike' to her tweet.