Rory McIlroy has been happily engaged to fiancée Erica Stoll, a former PGA of America employee, since December 2015. The two are reportedly planning on tying the knot in Ireland in April -- presumably after the Masters, which takes place April 3-9.
Only two and a half years ago, McIlroy was in a very different place romantically, having issued a public statement in May of 2014 in which he announced the end of his engagement to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki. The worst part: the wedding invitations had been mailed only days before.
It was a trying time for McIlroy emotionally, but his golf game flourished. In the months that followed the breakup, he won four events, including two major championships.
In the second installment of a wide-ranging interview with the Irish Independent's Paul Kimmage, McIlroy opened up about what makes his relationship with Stoll work.
"The thing I love about it," he told Kimmage, "is that we were friends before anything romantic happened. We met when she was working for the PGA of America, and renting a condo in Palm Beach, and I found it refreshing being with someone who was living a normal life rather than, 'Oh! My jet is 30 minutes late!'
"I thought at the time that being with someone that was in a similar position to you was the obvious answer. But it isn't, because you can never get away from it. You can never detach yourself and try to come back to the real world. And that's why I feel in such a good place now. I don't feel Erica wants to change me in any way. I can be myself around her; there's no bulls---, no acting, no show."
"I love that [Stoll] knows everything about me, and there was no judgment there. There was no judgment from day one, which is huge, because that's very hard to find for someone in my position."