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    5. Rory McIlroy called off his divorce from wife Erica just ..

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    Rory McIlroy called off his divorce from wife Erica just days before the US Open

    Erica Stoll and Rory McIlroy, pictured at the 2023 Ryder Cup, married in 2017. Photo: Getty Images/Brendan Moran

    Rory McIlroy enters the US Open in high spirits after announcing that he and his wife Erica have called off their divorce.

    The sport was stunned when news broke on Monday at last month's US PGA Championship that the couple had separated after seven years of marriage. The couple has a 3-year-old daughter.

    But two days before the start of the third major of the season, an attorney representing McIlroy filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss a divorce petition that was filed in Florida last month, citing that the marriage was “irretrievably dissolved.” According to court records, the case is closed.

     “In recent weeks, Erica and I have realized that our best future is a family future,” McIlroy later told the Guardian. “Fortunately, we have settled our differences and are looking forward to a new beginning.”

    McIlroy's split inevitably spread around the world, with all sorts of unsubstantiated stories appearing on gossip sites and social media. “There have been rumors about my personal life lately, and it’s unfortunate,” he said. “Reacting to every rumor is a stupid game.”

    McIlroy and Erica have a child together, Poppy Kennedy McIlroy, born in 2020. Photo: Getty Images/Jared K. Tilton

    McIlroy certainly seemed in good spirits at his pre-tournament press conference earlier in the day. He arrived here in the interview tent and said he still believes he is within striking distance of becoming the best European men's golfer of the modern era. 

    But if the Northern Irishman fails and the non-major race continues, he insists he won't feel like he's lost. McIlroy has only this US Open and next month's Open to go the entire decade without adding to his collection of Big Four titles, and he admitted “the clock is ticking.” 

    McIlroy will set a European record

    Yet despite the burden, he claims to be full of faith that he will finally end his fruitless streak here at the 124th US Open, emulating Seve Ballesteros's five major wins and moving closer to the record Sir Nick Faldo by one.

    < p> “I still feel like becoming the most successful European in the game is well within my reach – I need to get past Seve and Faldo in terms of big wins,” he said. arriving at Field No. 2 on Tuesday. “But that said, I'm really proud of my work over the last 15 years and everything I've achieved, be it season titles, individual tournaments or major tournaments. 

    “Obviously it took quite a long time to get to the fifth specialty, but I'm more confident than ever that I'm here, that I'm as close as I've ever been.”

    Of course, his detractors will roll their eyes at this statement . With each opportunity that passes, the conviction inevitably grows that this may well be a case of “four and no more” for the 35-year-old. If 2024 comes and goes, then 2025, he will have to set a new mark in the men's game for the gap between the majors. 

    Tiger Woods' return to the Masters in 2019 came 11 years after his previous glory, the 2008 U.S. Open, and McIlroy's chances are looking up. Even artificial intelligence is now doubting him. A Las Vegas sportsbook ran his stats through an AI simulator, which concluded that his 13-year run to Congress is all there is to McIlroy at America's National Championship.

    However, McIlroy, an amazingly natural talent, won't be upset by what some computer says and also refuses to burden himself with a lifelong goal. “I want to win as many golf tournaments as possible and win as many majors as possible,” he said. “But the thing about choosing a number [you want to achieve] is that you're setting yourself up for failure or disappointment. 

    “Tiger wanted to surpass Jack [Nicklaus record – 18 specialties]. It looks like he won't get there, but will we call Tiger's career a failure? Absolutely not. He was probably the best golfer anyone had ever seen. 

    “[But] there will always be a shade of what could have been. I don't want to do this to myself. I still have a lot of time, hopefully in the next 10 years. But whatever the numbers are, whatever the outcome, I will accept it and feel that I did pretty well for a little boy from Northern Ireland who dreamed of someday playing golf for a living.”

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