He will understandably never make public comparisons between fiancees but Rory McIlroy's citing of the "calming presence" of Erica Stoll seems pertinent in respect of his recent engagement. Those who may raise an eyebrow at McIlroy's desire to contemplate marriage for a second time in as many years serve an injustice to circumstances.
Speaking at length for the first time since Stoll accepted his proposal in Paris earlier this month, McIlroy swatted aside any fears of impingement to his career. Quite the opposite. This marks a different scenario to the one in which McIlroy found himself when engaged to the tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, who was headline news in her own right. Stoll has rarely caught, and never sought, the limelight. That their engagement was not publicised is in itself telling.
“Erica has been around me quite a lot at tournaments but we have really just tried to keep it low key,” McIlroy said. “She is a very low key person, not the kind to broadcast stuff, but that side of my life is really good just now. We are excited, our parents are excited so it is a really happy time.
“For me, Erica brings such a level of normality to everything. She has a calming presence, a sereneness and that’s not just on me; it is noticeable in any company. She never wants to be the centre of attention and is always very comfortable in the background.
“She has been a great influence on me and has given such a great balance to my life; between who I am when people see me out here and who I am at home.”
McIlroy, speaking on a visit to Facebook’s European headquarters in Dublin on Thursday, said a 2016 wedding is not in the offing because of scheduling pressures. This admission rather summed up the 26-year-old’s calm approach, which has not always been the case when discussing his personal life.
“I’m all for people scrutinising my golf or criticising me for going to play football,” McIlroy said. “I’m happy; again it is about balance, and everyone around me is happy. That makes it so much easier to go out and play because that side of things is calm.”
McIlroy expanded on the backdrop to his proposal, which was altered slightly by the terrorist attacks in Paris in November.
“We had planned to go to Paris since May, we were always going to go,” McIlroy said. “Then what happened made us unsure what we were going to do. So we decided to go and if we didn’t like it, if we didn’t like the mood of the place, didn’t feel comfortable, we would go somewhere else.
“When we got there and walked around, it felt great. There were searches going into a few shops and a bit more of a security presence around but people were just getting on with things.
“So we felt comfortable but I still thought at least at the start of the trip, it might make the rest of the trip even better. So we went out for dinner and that was that. It was a nice trip, a nice way to end the year.”