RORY McILROY laid the blame for a winless 2013 on mental and mechanical issues yesterday, saying his struggles had nothing to do with an equipment switch, but the former world number one refused to open up on reports of a split with Caroline Wozniacki.
McIlroy, speaking at a news conference in Seoul ahead of this week's Korea Open, deflected questions about his relationship with the Danish tennis player amid reports the high-profile pair had broken up.
"My private life is private and I would like to keep it that way," the Holywood native told reporters in the South Korean capital.
McIlroy and Wozniacki are one of sport's glamour couples and were frequently seen supporting each other when their hectic schedules allowed.
While it was reported that Wozniacki was devastated about the breakdown of her relationship with the 2011 US Open and 2012 US PGA champion, the tennis player dismissed the reports as pure speculation.
"I'm so tired of the rumours. They occur every time Rory and I are apart a few days or do not write on Twitter," the former world number one said.
"There is nothing in it, and from now on I just think that I will keep my private life private.
"It is so annoying that the media and the so-called sources constantly spread the rumours. They write just what they want."
McIlroy, who claimed the order of merit on both sides of the Atlantic last year and won two major titles by the age of 23, has endured a difficult year.
After switching his club brand at the start of the season to Nike in a lucrative deal reported to be worth $250 million over 10 years, the 24-year-old slipped from world number one to sixth in the rankings.
Asked if his problems on the course were caused by mechanical or mental issues, McIlroy said: "I think it was a little bit of both.
"Mechanically, my golf swing... I fell into a couple of bad habits and I was trying to work myself out of it. It affects mental issues as well.
"Golf is a game of confidence and, if you are confident, it allows you to play better and freer ... with a free mind. Definitely nothing to do with equipment."
McIlroy said there was plenty of golf left in the year and ample opportunities for him to get that first win.
"I learned a lot this year," he added.
"I was under-golfed for the first three to four months. It's the first year I struggled and I didn't live up to the expectation. This year is a little bit of a disappointment, but I have six tournaments left and will finish the season strongly."
In another off-course distraction, McIlroy recently terminated his contract with Horizon Sports Management and set up his own company to run his business interests, resulting in a messy break-up that has ended up in court proceedings.