Rochester loves its Rochester connections, and it has a close one in the world’s No. 3 golfer, Rory McIlroy, who is playing in the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill.
The Northern Ireland native visited here for the first time in the summer of 2013 as defending PGA champion, when the Pittsford club last hosted the tournament.
McIlroy’s return trip to town in April 2015 had nothing to do with golf.
At that time, having split from tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, McIlroy was rumored to be dating Erica Stoll, a 2003 Irondequoit High School graduate who worked as the PGA’s manager of championship volunteer operations.
The two drew stares while dining at 2Vine (now REDD) in Rochester’s East End and later during a brief stop at the Magpie Irish Pub on Park Avenue.
They got engaged eight months later in Paris. And on April 22, 2017, they married at Ashford Castle, a medieval fortress-turned-five-star resort on Ireland’s west coast. According to E! News, Stevie Wonder and Ed Sheeran performed during the lavish ceremony.
On Aug. 31, 2020, the couple welcomed their first child, daughter Poppy Kennedy McIlroy, at Jupiter Medical Center in Jupiter, Florida.
During that 2015 Rochester trip, McIlroy tried to remain inconspicuous. However, as he and Stoll exited 2Vine, “Everybody in the restaurant was shouting, ‘Oh my God, that’s Rory McIlroy! That’s Rory McIlroy!’” a hostess told the Democrat and Chronicle the following day.
Stoll and McIlroy met when she helped save him from missing his tee time at the 2012 Ryder Cup in Medinah, Illinois, because of time-zone mishap. She noticed McIlroy’s absence at the Chicago-area course and alerted officials. He needed a police escort to make his tee time.
Stoll played tennis in high school and in 2008 graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a marketing degree. She began moving toward a career in golf in the leadup to the 2008 Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill.
In a 2017 interview with the Irish Independent, McIlroy spoke of their relationship, saying he loved that it grew from friendship and praising Stoll for being down-to-earth.
“I can be myself around her,” he said. “I love that (she) knows everything about me, and there was no judgment there. There was no judgment from day one, which is huge, because that’s very hard to find for someone in my position.”
As much as possible, though, they keep things private. Stoll stays out of the spotlight, and her Instagram account is set to private.
McIlroy set firm ground rules before agreeing to participate in the recent Netflix golf docuseries “Full Swing.”
“I made sure that the parameters were very much like, look, you can film me at — you’re not coming to my house, you’re not coming in my car, you’re not coming anywhere near my family, but you want to do some stuff with me at golf tournaments, totally fine,” he told the Golf Channel.
The couple did not even reveal their status as expectant parents until two days before their daughter was born.
While playing the BMW Championship in Olympia Fields, Illinois, McIlroy told the press: “We’re about to be parents very soon, so we’re obviously super excited. Yeah, we’ve been sharing the news with friends and family, obviously, but I didn’t think it was something that I really particularly needed to share out here. It’s a private matter, but we’re really excited and can’t wait for her to get here.”