The Red Flag We All Missed About Rory McIlroy & Erica Stoll's Relationship

Rory McIlroy did not participate in the Par 3 Contest ahead of the Masters Tournament in April, leaving many golf fans wondering why. That's when speculation that McIlroy was trying to avoid the Par 3 Contest curse began to circulate. Some superstitious golfers (and fans) believe winning the Par 3 Contest ruins their chance of winning the Masters — a chance McIlroy likely didn't want to take. As it turns out, however, there was something else going on. On May 14, TMZ reported McIlroy and his wife, Erica Stoll, had filed for divorce. 

Considering Stoll caddied for McIlroy during the Par 3 Contest in 2023, fans likely assumed she'd be his caddy again in 2024. But we now know McIlroy more than likely skipped the contest because he didn't want to face any issues resulting from his marital troubles — and his absence should've been the first sign there was trouble in paradise.

McIlroy's manager, Sean O'Flaherty, told TMZ the golfer wouldn't be commenting on the split, but he intended to keep things "amicable." McIlroy and Stoll started dating in 2014 and tied the knot in 2017. They welcomed their daughter, Poppy, three years later. McIlroy has had Stoll's support throughout his career, but it's clear that the end of their marriage probably caused him to sit out the Par 3.

Golfers' wives or family members traditionally caddy the Par 3

The Par 3 Contest takes place a day before the Masters Tournament. The fun event often gives pro golfers a bit of a break from the upcoming major. One of the key components of the contest that makes it unique from other golf competitions is that the golfers include their families, many of whom serve as caddies. In 2023, Rory McIlroy was joined by both Erica Stoll and the couple's daughter Poppy. Although McIlroy did not win the Par 3 Contest, he appeared to have a great time on the course with his family. "Always one of the best days of the year," McIlroy captioned a video on Instagram following the event.

In 2024, commentators suggested McIlroy was not going to arrive in Augusta, Georgia, in time for the Par 3 Contest and that he was simply going to prepare for the Masters Tournament. However, it was later confirmed that McIlroy had arrived in Augusta with plenty of time to spare. In fact, he arrived one day before the event took place. Nevertheless, he didn't participate. For the record, Rickie Fowler won the Par 3 in 2024 with his wife serving as his caddy. McIlroy's golf game doesn't seem impacted by his divorce; he won the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Golf and Country Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, on May 12. McIlroy won $3.6 million, adding to his surprising net worth of $150 million.

Rory McIlroy had been struggling on the course ahead of his divorce

With frustration in his golf game as of the past few tournaments over the 2024 season, it now seems clear that Rory McIlroy may have been distracted. Prior to his win at the Wells Fargo Championship in May 2024, McIlroy finished in the top 10 only once — at the Valero Texas Open, in which he placed third. Although he competed in the Genesis Invitational, The Players Championship (which he won in 2019), and the Masters Tournament, McIlroy has been struggling.

One loss in particular, however, stood out above all the rest. At the Arnold Palmer Invitational in May, McIlroy let his aggravation get the best of him after he missed an 11-foot putt on the third hole. He took his putter and made a dent in the green, which some people believe he should have been fined for. But his frustration didn't end there. McIlroy smashed a tee box marker after an upsetting drive which did not go in the intended direction. It seems as though McIlroy's personal life may be the cause of his disappointing performances, but with a W under his belt and his divorce out in the open, he may start to settle in a bit more.