ATLANTA – Rory McIlroy arrived at East Lake on Thursday to prepare for this week’s Tour Championship, where he will be the defending champion, but his focus was understandably elsewhere.
“I mean, emotionally drained, right,” said McIlroy following the birth of his first child, Poppy Kennedy, on Monday. “We got her home yesterday and trying to get her settled. It's nice in the hospital. You've got so much help and all the nurses are around and they did a phenomenal job. And then you're handed your child and they're like, ‘See you later,’ and they don't come with an instruction manual.”
Last week McIlroy revealed that his wife, Erica, was pregnant and that he would have skipped this week’s season finale to be at home for the birth of the couple’s first child. He also admitted that all of the unknowns of parenthood had made it difficult to focus this season.
“There's a lot of different things and there's a lot of things that sort of run through your head, and the fact that all that went well and everyone is good and recovering at home, I feel more comfortable now that I can come out here and play golf and maybe get my mind off it for four or five hours a day, and that's a nice thing,” he said.
McIlroy will start the week at 3 under and seven strokes off the lead held by Dustin Johnson, but his record at East Lake suggests that’s not an insurmountable advantage. In six starts at the Tour Championship, he has two victories (2016 and ’19) and has finished outside the top 10 just once.