Rory McIlroy is set to become a father for the first time this week and will walk out of the FedEx Cup and the chance to win $15million (£11m) if he gets the news the baby girl is on the way while playing in the finale at East Lake.
‘I’ll get the chance to play in many more FedEx Cups but it’s only going to be the birth of our first child once, so for sure I’ll be out of there if the phone starts ringing at East Lake,’ he said.
‘Obviously, we’re both super-excited and while it was something we didn’t feel the need to share publicly, now we can’t wait for her to get here.’
It’s almost as if the decision to deliver the happy news to a wider audience acted as a release valve for the Northern Irishman, who came to the second of the trio of FedEx Cup play-off events mired in his worst run of form for 11 years.
Over the first three rounds in Chicago he’s taken positive strides towards ending a run of seven events without a top ten finish.
A 73 on Saturday has left him trailing the joint leaders, Hideki Matsuyama and last week’s runaway winner Dustin Johnson by just three shots going into the final round.
McIlroy’s form and demeanour had been strangely out of character post-lockdown. He talked of a lack of focus and last week admitted he was ‘going through the motions.’
McIlroy was happy for the American press to put it down to the strange atmosphere at tournaments these days with no spectators, but it was never an explanation that really added up. Now his comments have a more understandable context.
McIlroy and his wife Erica married in Ireland in 2017 and live in Jupiter, Florida. They have always made a point of keeping their private life separate from McIlroy’s public dealings as a high-profile golfer, which explains their reluctance to disclose Erica’s pregnancy for almost its entire length.
That ended last night, with the news announced first on American television by presenter Steve Sands. ‘A baby girl is due any day now with Erica in good health and resting up at home,’ he said.
Meanwhile, one of the most remarkable finals in the long history of the Amateur Championship will take place at Royal Birkdale on Sunday.
Two Englishmen from the same Bristol club will play for the winner’s spoils, which include a place in the field at the Masters, the US Open and the Open next year.
Joe Harvey, 22, will take on his fellow Kendleshire member Joe Long, 23.. ‘I’m sure the club must be going mental,’ said Harvey. ‘It will be the friendliest final in the history of the Amateur.’