Why won’t G-Mac be at Rory’s wedding?
As Cong prepares for McIlroy nuptials, there’s one notable no-show
RORY McIlroy and Erica Stoll’s lavish wedding this weekend is set to be a starstudded affair – but one person who will not be making an appearance is McIlroy’s fellow Ulster golfer, Graeme McDowell.
The Antrim man will be in Texas playing in the Valero Texas Open on McIlroy’s big day in Cong, Co. Mayo.
However, there are questions as to whether McDowell would have attended the wedding in any event.
The pair’s formerly close friendship hit a rocky patch in recent years due to a legal dispute between their management company, Horizon Sports, and McIlroy, which McDowell previously admitted left a strain on their relationship. Rumours of a falling out surrounded the pair when McDowell’s name was included in court proceedings by McIlroy’s lawyers.
McIlroy claimed that Horizon Sports gave him inferior terms to McDowell, despite promises that there would be parity.
Legal proceedings in the case were served on the eve of McDowell’s wedding in September 2013.
The action was settled between Horizon and McIlroy in early 2015 for a €22million sum.
Speaking in 2014 about the strain in their relationship, McDowell said that he’d felt stuck in the middle of the legal battle, and that their relationship had not returned to its old familiar footing.
But he insisted that any tension was strictly business, and not personal.
Meanwhile, it also emerged yesterday that another big name from the world of golf will also miss the ceremony. Tiger Woods, with whom McIlroy has forged a friendship in recent times, has just undergone back surgery.
McIlroy recently described how he went from being ‘probably one of the biggest Tiger fans you will ever come across’ to being a close friend of Woods, 41.
‘He’s an intriguing character,’ said McIlroy said of Woods. ‘When he’s comfortable and he trusts you, he’s great.’
Even without the presence of either McDowell or Woods, the McIlroy-Stoll nuptials look set to be the wedding of the year.
Yesterday, it emerged that legendary singer songwriter Stevie Wonder will perform at the wedding with an 18-piece band.
Cong, Co. Mayo, is no stranger to celebrity weddings, or indeed McIlroy and his fiancée who have spent New Year’s Eve in Ashford Castle for the past number of years.
Yesterday, the small village near the Galway border was rolling out the red carpet for the 27-year-old Holywood, Co. Down, native and his New Yorker beloved, whom he started dating in 2014.
Security at the 350-acre estate has been tight all week, while the hotel has been booked since Wednesday.
Before the resort went into lockdown, two couples from the US got a chance to experience the luxury first-hand. Patrick and Patricia McGovern, and Rich and Trudy Jelderks, both from Virginia in the US, stayed at the hotel and were astounded by the splendour.
‘My ancestors came from Northern Ireland so I always wanted to come back and visit here,’ said Mr McGovern. ‘I have watched Rory McIlroy a lot. I am a big fan, and I’m sure he’ll like Ashford Castle.’
One man who knows what it is like to cater to the rich and famous is Carlos Gordo, who now works in a restaurant and pub in the village, having previously worked as a chef at Ashford Castle.
‘Ashford brings all of the VIPs to Cong,’ Mr Gordo said. ‘People try to sneak in and have a look at the celebrities. But it’s a small village: everyone is nice and no one forces themselves on the celebrities.’
‘Tiger? He’s an intriguing guy’
Team: Rory McIlroy and Erica Stoll at last year’s Ryder Cup
Par: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy, top. Above: McDowell and Kristin Stape’s 2013 nuptials, which McIlroy didn’t attend, right