“I actually changed the first two diapers, so I’m very proud of that,” said McIlroy, sounding as if he had just aced the par three seventh at Winged Foot Golf Club, the site of this year’s U.S. Open. “I’ve got my hands dirty; put it that way.”
Diaper duty is just one of the new skills McIlroy has had to work on since the August arrival of his daughter Poppy, who has brought perspective to someone once consumed with winning trophies.
A four-time major winner, McIlroy has not won one of golf’s big prizes since the 2014 PGA Championship and is without a tournament win of any sort since the World Golf Championship HSBC Champions last November.
Even though McIlroy is a former U.S. Open winner, that victory was in 2011 and in the last four years he has missed the cut three times.
It was those disappointing performances that McIlroy carried around with him long after the tournament was over but now, coming home to a daughter’s smile, he is learning there is more to life than birdies and bogeys.
“I think it just puts things in perspective a little bit,” said McIlroy, about having a child. “It makes the hard days a little easier to get over, right.
“And I’m not saying that I want to have hard days to get over, but you’re a little more relaxed.
“When I say it’s not the be-all and end-all, it’s a major championship and I’ve grown up my whole life dreaming of winning these tournaments, and that’s not going to change.
“But if it doesn’t quite happen, I can live with that and go home and be very happy and leave what’s happened at the golf course at the golf course.
“I think maybe something that I haven’t done so well in the past is I haven’t left my job at the office basically, I’ve brought it home with me, and I’ve let it affect my mood and how I am.” Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris