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Been there. Seen it. Done it. Garcia offers McIlroy support

By Tony Jimenez

VIRGINIA WATER England (Reuters) - Sergio Garcia has been involved in two high-profile breakups during his career and is ready to provide a shoulder for Rory McIlroy to lean on following his split from fiancée Caroline Wozniacki.

World number 10 McIlroy announced on Wednesday, the eve of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, that he had called off his planned marriage to the Danish tennis player just days after the couple had sent out wedding invitations.

Garcia has also experienced the anguish of splits with former world number one tennis player Martina Hingis and with Morgan-Leigh Norman, daughter of former Australian golfer Greg.

"I haven't seen Rory since I heard the news but when I do I will definitely put my arm around his shoulder and ask if he wants to talk about it," the Spaniard told reporters.

"I've been through the same sort of thing a couple of times. I broke it off with Martina but Morgan was the one who left me. And of course how you react is different.

"When you are the one who leaves someone you can usually get over it quicker. But either way it is always a hard thing to do when you have been with someone for a long time, for a period of years, and shared so much together," added Garcia.

"It should be easier if it is mutual but when it is a really painful breakup you try to get away from it by throwing yourself into golf more than ever but it doesn't always work out, it's not easy to concentrate when something like that is still on your mind."

Garcia's golf took a nosedive when Morgan-Leigh ended their relationship and he was forced to take a brief break from the sport.

"Every case is different but for me the hurt of the breakup was one of the reasons I felt I had to stop playing the game for a while," said the world number seven who, like McIlroy, is one of the favorites for the European Tour's flagship event that starts on Thursday.

GREAT HEALER

"Time is a great healer but how long it takes is going to be different every time. It's not something you can predict.

"I know how I felt but I can't put those same feelings on someone else because you don't know the full background," Garcia explained.

McIlroy, 25, said he ended his two and a half year relationship with Wozniacki because he simply was not ready for marriage.

Asked if it was more difficult for celebrity couples, Garcia replied: "I don't think so. I think if a relationship is strong enough it shouldn't make a difference if both people are famous.

"We all go through these difficult moments. Things are no different because we are famous golfers.

"We are real people too and go through the same things. We get hurt emotionally sometimes, the same as everyone else," said the 34-year-old Spaniard.

U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, another Ryder Cup team mate of McIlroy's, said he was surprised to hear the news of the breakup.

"There are hearts involved," said Englishman Rose. "Better now than in two years' time.

"I don't know what the circumstances are so it's very difficult to comment. I regard Rory as a close friend and he vaguely asked me what I'd be doing around the time I thought the wedding might be so it's a shame.

"It is very sad. Should he play? Is the golf course the best place for him to be? It's difficult for him.

"He is a megastar," said world number eight Rose. "His personal life unfortunately is not so personal any more because of the situation he is in.

"It's surprising and I feel for him. Rory's a good lad. I'm sure I'll be talking to him over the next few days."

(Editing by Ian Ransom)

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