Rory McIlroy put the blame for his winless 2013 on mechanical and mental issues, saying his struggles had nothing to do with an equipment change. But he declined to discuss his relationship with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki following reports in Ireland and the U.K. that they had parted ways.
McIlroy, speaking to reporters in advance of this week's Kolon Korean Open in Seoul, South Korea, attempted to move away from questions about Wozniacki.
"My private life is private and I would like to keep it that way," McIlroy said.
Great Britain's Daily Telegraph and the Irish Independent both cited sources this week saying the couple had broken up and that the tennis player was "absolutely devastated." But in a Danish newspaper, Wozniacki refuted those reports.
"I'm so tired of the rumors," she told Ekstra Bladet. "They occur every time Rory and I are apart a few days or do not write on Twitter. There is nothing in it, and from now on I just think that I will keep my private life private."
She later said that "all is well" with the relationship.
McIlroy, meanwhile, is battling through a slump that saw him start the year ranked No. 1 in the world and end it at No. 6. A year ago at this time, he was in the midst of a stretch that saw him take over the No. 1 ranking following his win at the PGA Championship and two more in the FedEx Cup playoffs. He then captured the season-ending European Tour event in Dubai.
But since signing a lucrative endorsement deal to play Nike equipment starting in January, McIlroy has had little success, certainly far from the type of golf that he played a year ago.
"Mechanically my golf swing ... I fell into a couple of bad habits, and I was trying to work myself out of it. It affects mental issues as well," he said. "Golf is a game of confidence, and if you are confident it allows you to play better and freer ... with a free mind. Definitely nothing to do with equipment."
McIlroy also has launched legal action against his former management company.
Britain's Press Association reports McIlroy alleges in court papers he was misled by Horizon Sports Management and its leading agent, Conor Ridge, who were "primarily concerned with maximising their own share of any commission."
Lawyers for Horizon have said they plan to file a counterclaim. A trial date is scheduled for next October.
McIlroy is about to embark on a busy stretch of golf. After the event in Seoul, he heads to Shanghai for the BMW Masters, a European Tour event. On Oct. 28, he plays a one-day exhibition against Tiger Woods in China followed by the HSBC Champions, a World Golf Championship event that counts on both the European and PGA tours. It will be McIlroy's first start of the 2013-14 PGA season.
After a week off, he heads to the season-ending European Tour event in Dubai, the Australian Open and the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, Woods' charity event in Southern California.
"I learned a lot this year," McIlroy said. "I was undergolfed for the first three to four months. It's the first year I struggled and I didn't live up to the expectation. This year is a little bit of a disappointment, but I have six tournaments left and will finish the season strongly."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.