HIS luck may have deserted him on the greens this weekend but golf number one Rory McIlroy looked the picture of happiness as he strolled around the Royal County Down course hand-in-hand with his new girlfriend Erica Stoll.
The loved-up couple took on the elements and were pictured together at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open - which McIlroy was hosting through his charitable foundation - for the first time yesterday.
McIlroy opened up about his six-month relationship with American Erica (29) who works for the Professional Golfers Association.
The 26-year-old golfer had been engaged to tennis pro Caroline Wozniacki but he broke off the relationship just as the couple's wedding invitations were sent out.
Since Erica appeared on the scene McIlroy has been spending a lot more time on the pro tour in the US.
"She is from America which is why I like to spend time in Spring Beach [in Florida].
"She doesn't play golf but she is involved," McIlroy said this week after he crashed out of the Irish Open having missed the cut after two disastrous rounds .
"I am very happy in my love life," he said before adding: "If everything off the golf course is good, it allows you to be better on it as well."
However, that sentiment did not translate at the Irish Open as McIlroy (26) endured one of his worst outings of his star-studded career in trying conditions at the Newcastle links course.
Indeed it proved to be a bad competition all-round for the Irish, with no fairytale finish for Padraig Harrington or any of the chasing home pack.
The Dubliner saw his challenge collapse on Saturday and he finished well down the pecking order, tied in 43rd place alongside Offaly native Shane Lowry.
Dane Soren Kjeldsen overcame the wind and rain to take the title in a three-way play-off after finishing tied on two under after yesterday's 18 holes.