Papa McIlroy celebrates new status with 64, set for title defence at Tour Champs

Rory Mcilroy. File Pic

Papa McIlroy arrived in Atlanta on Thursday and was immediately back on the course the same day for the first round of the Tour Championship.

Tired but elated at his new status, McIlroy, the defending FedExCup champion, was back on Thursday and shot a superb six-under 64 as he made ground on the leader, Dustin Johnson, who started the week at 10-under as the FedExCup Standings leader.

McIlroy and Erica Stoll’s first born, Poppy Kennedy McIlroy, was rather accommodating as she was born on Monday at 12:15 p.m. at Jupiter Medical Centre. The 18-time PGA TOUR winner, McIlroy, who lives in South Florida, was present at the birth.

McIlroy took his own time before posting his news breaking tweet, “… Baby Poppy and mom Erica Stoll are “doing great,”. It also went out on Instagram. “She is the absolute love of our lives,” he wrote.

“There’s so much admiration for the mother, what they go through,” he said. “And it’s just amazing that this – you feel like you get to know your baby while she’s still in her mother’s belly, but to go from not having met this person to having unconditional love for them, from one minute to the next, is just – there’s nothing like it in the world.

“… It’s probably the best part of being a human being, and I’m glad that I got to experience it.”


Before the first round on Friday, McIlroy said, “I mean, emotionally drained, right?” he said. “We got her home yesterday and trying to get her settled into the – it’s nice in the hospital. You’ve got so much help and all the nurses are around and they did a phenomenal job. You don’t appreciate that side of things, as well. And then you’re handed your child and they’re like, ‘See you later,’ and they don’t come with an instruction manual.

“Look, every parent has to sort of go through it, and we’re going through it,” he added. “Thankfully Erica has her mom and sister with her at the minute, so she’s got plenty of help and I feel a little better leaving and coming here to play this week.”

McIlroy’s recent results have been substandard. He is 12th in the FedExCup, without a top-10 finish since the TOUR came back in June. People wondered about the dip in form, but he hadn’t told anyone he and Erica were about to become first-time parents. The news broke during the third round of the BMW Championship last Saturday.

On Friday after his first round, when he was asked if golf was farthest from his mind, he said, “Yeah, golf was the furthest thing from my mind the first few days this week. And then once we got home on Wednesday and everything was good and mom and baby were healthy, that sort of took a load off my mind, and that meant I could come here and somewhat focus on what I’m supposed to do.

It was just nice to get home, as I said, have that reassurance that everything is okay, and then if anything, what’s happened the last few days, it’s nice to get out on the course for four or five hours and just do this.

Obviously I have a lot of good memories here at East Lake, and nice to have another really good round.”

He was also asked, whether on return during the pandemic, he had the baby on his mind, he replied in the affirmative, saying, “Yeah, so I think partly there was — subconsciously there was probably something in there that was lingering, but I think it was just a perfect storm of that going on in my life and really not adjusting well to life without fans out here, as well, and just not really getting an energy.

You know, I’ve seen signs of my game that’s getting a little better over the last couple weeks. I played okay last week in Chicago. It’s nice when you come here, even though I’ve had success here, I was coming in with no expectations. I didn’t touch a club for four days in between tournaments.

As I said, I come in here and golf was sort of the furthest thing from my mind, and sometimes that’s a good thing just to decompress and get away from it, and yeah, happy to have the start that I did.”

He added, “You know, it just shows you golf is such a mental game, and if you come in with low expectations, that’s always how I’ve played well. Whether I don’t feel like my game is in a good place or I’m not the favourite coming into a tournament, all that stuff, I feel like that’s when I usually play my best and I can play with a bit of freedom, and that’s what I did today.”

He also confirmed that he did not touch the clubs during the three days he went home for Poppy’s birth, in between the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship.

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