MAMARONECK, N.Y. • First-time fatherhood has suited Rory McIlroy.
He has doted on daughter Poppy in the two weeks since she was born, and he felt the pang of having to leave her and wife Erica to prepare for the U.S. Open, which begins today.
He’s also embraced the sleepless nights, even diaper duty.
“I’ve got my hands dirty, put it that way,” he said Tuesday, after a practice round at Winged Foot.
McIlroy is hoping to do the same this week in what figures to be a brutal test.
Still one of golf’s best, the 31-year-old aims to end a lengthy – for him – drought at the majors.
Since winning the 2014 PGA Championship for his fourth career major, McIlroy has gone 0 for 20 in golf’s four most important tournaments. He’s come close, though, with 10 top-10 finishes.
In that span, Brooks Koepka has won four majors, Jordan Spieth three. Danny Willett became a first-time major champ at the Masters; Tiger Woods returned from a series of back surgeries to win his 15th major at Augusta last year; and 23-year-old Collin Morikawa won this year’s PGA Championship in his second career major.
It’s not like McIlroy’s skills have faded.
He was the FedEx Cup champion in 2016 and 2019, has 12 victories over the past six years – nine on the PGA Tour – and arrived at Winged Foot ranked No. 4 in the world.
“I probably just put a little too much pressure on myself,” he said. “I think that’s been the big thing.”