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"It was a three-minute conversation she thought was a joke"

Rory McIlroy returns to action in the Memorial Tournament this week but the fallout over his break-up with Caroline Wozniacki won't go away.

The latest bombshell revelation comes via The Times, no less, with tennis correspondent Neil Harman well and truly calling McIlroy out in the first par of his report on the Danish tennis player's first round exit in the French Open at Rolland Garros on Tuesday.

"Caroline Wozniacki played tennis in a lovely old arena at Roland Garros yesterday but would rather have been in Belfast, asking Rory McIlroy to his face why he left her this way. Except that the last time he called, less than a day after telling her how much he loved her, it was a three-minute conversation she thought was a joke."

McIlroy was already in Ohio by then, but three minutes? Ouch.

The tale of the three-minute call names no sources but we are led to assume by The Times, that it was her father Piotr:

"Walking through the ground a few minutes after his daughter had kept it all together, I bumped into her father Piotr, the defining influence on her life and tennis career. “We speak as friends, yes, this is just between us,” he said and tried to explain what had happened in the past few days as much as his limited English would allow."

The information clashes a little with what was reported in the Irish Independent last Thursday, when the golfing world was wondering how a clearly upset looking McIlroy would perform in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, a tournament he would win in spectacular fashion with his best 72-hole display since he won his second major in 2012.

In a piece told us that McIlroy was to "let ex fiancee Caroline Wozniacki keep €150k engagement ring", Melanie Finn quotes an unnamed source as saying, “They were together nearly three years and that time meant a lot to him so he would like to see her keep the ring.... There were lengthy conversations in the last few days between them but a joint statement was never going to be a possibility".

"Lengthy conversations" doesn't really tally with "a three-minute phone conversation" but the whole business does little to protect McIlroy's image, which was one of the primary reasons for setting up Rory McIlroy Inc earlier this year.

In an age when sports stars form their own organisations to better control the way their image is handled, one wonders if the PR companies they employ to help them could not have handled this better. The use of the word "mutual" in the official statement issued on McIlroy's behalf appears to have been used in the loosest possible context given that Wozniacki described the break up as "a shock" when she spoke about it on Tuesday.

Of course, this has little to do with golf and everything to do with the difficulty of combining the private life of a 25-year old man with the burdens of being the face of a $20m-per-annum relationship with Nike.

As McIlroy's statement explained: "There is no right way to end a relationship that has been so important to two people..."

Perhaps not.

Or perhaps the real truth of the entire business has been twisted out of all recognition under the red-hot glare of the media spotlight they both loved and loathed. Or perhaps McIlroy is a far tougher person that we imagined.

Speculating on how his star player pulled the whole thing off in terms of golf last Sunday, European Ryder Cup skipper Paul McGinley hit the nail on the head.

"We will never know," he told the Irish nation on RTE Radio on Monday evening. "Only Rory can answer that question." 

UPDATED at 2256 following McIlroy's pre-tournament press conference at the Memorial.

PGATour.com reported:

His face between his hands at times, the normally affable Rory McIlroy looked about as uncomfortable as he has ever been behind a microphone.

A report by the The Times of London suggested McIlroy had split with fiancee Caroline Wozniacki in a three-minute phone conversation. "I'm here to talk about my golf," McIlroy said when asked about it.

ESPN's Bob Harig wrote: 

McIlroy was asked why he felt compelled to announce that he and Wozniacki had broken up.

"Honestly, I don't know," he said. "It's one of those things that it was a very public relationship. And I thought it was best that, instead of letting it linger and rumors, just to have it right there as soon as possible

Here's a clip from ESPN, who said he "dodged" questions about the split: