Caroline Wozniack, of Denmark and boyfriend Rory McIlroy.
CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland (AP) – U.S. Open winner Rory McIlroy said Wednesday that his relationship with top-ranked tennis player Caroline Wozniacki can help him become golf's world number one.
After spending two "great" weeks together in the United States, McIlroy believes he and the 21-year-old from Denmark can be good for each other's careers.
"I think we definitely spur each other on. She's number one in the world and I've got a major and we sort of both want what each other have," the sixth-ranked McIlroy said.
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"It's a big goal of mine. I want to become the best player in the world," McIlroy said ahead of the European Masters, his first tournament since injuring his right arm at the PGA Championship three weeks ago.
While recuperating, the 22-year Northern Irishman was by Wozniacki's side at tournaments in Cincinnati and New Haven ahead of bidding for a first Grand Slam title at her U.S. Open.
McIlroy said he was impressed with Wozniacki's dedication, and picked up pointers to improving his own game.
"She's got a great work ethic and it's something I can probably learn a lot from," he said admiringly.
"It's a lot more physically demanding than golf," McIlroy said, adding he has long been a tennis fan. "They do put the work in, they really do. It's just amazing how they can get up each morning and keep doing the same thing, putting their bodies through that.
"It's pretty impressive."
McIlroy said the couple were "taking a day at a time," knowing tournament schedules leave few chances to meet much more this year.
He watched on television Tuesday night when his top-seeded girlfriend opened at Flushing Meadows with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Spain's Nuria Llagostera-Vives.
Wozniacki is next scheduled to play Thursday, after he completes his first round at the European Masters, which counts as the first points-scoring event toward representing Europe in the 2012 Ryder Cup.
McIlroy's more immediate goal is chasing world No. 1 Luke Donald of England, who plays in the U.S. this weekend.
"I don't think it's achievable in the short term, Luke is quite a long way ahead," McIlroy said.
He calculates he can rise to a career-high No. 3 with victory at the Crans-sur-Sierre club, and other results fall his way. Fifth-ranked Martin Kaymer of Germany is in the European field while the Americans occupying third and fourth spots, Steve Stricker and Dustin Johnson, play at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.
McIlroy will look for inspiration from "one of the most beautiful places in the world," where he almost got his first professional win as a 19-year-old. He took a four-stroke lead into the final round in the Swiss Alps but lost in extra holes to Frenchman Jean-Francois Lucquin.
"I still think about that playoff in 2008," said McIlroy, who has still to win in Europe as a pro. His sole European Tour victory was at Dubai in February 2009.
McIlroy's injury began as damage to his right wrist three holes into his PGA challenge, and spread up to his shoulder as he compensated for the pain.
"Now it's not painful. It's more like a numb sensation, like if someone gives you a dead arm," he said, after a morning practice Wednesday, following nine holes the previous afternoon.
"It's nearly 100 percent and I'm happy with it," McIlroy said.