• Alistair Tait

Will fatherhood change Rory McIlroy?


Will Rory McIlroy’s approach to golf change after he and wife Erica welcomed daughter Poppy Kennedy into the family yesterday? Never underestimate the motivation children can bring to a player’s career.

Paul Broadhurst’s most satisfying moment on the European Tour probably came when he won the 2005 Portuguese Open. It meant he could finally prove to son Sam he was still a decent golfer.


Broadhurst recounts a story of being with young son Sam in the early noughties when he bumped into a friend.

"We were in a local supermarket and a guy came up to us and said to my son: 'Your dad used to be famous.'" "My son said: 'Yes I know, he used to be a good golfer.'”

Sam was eight when Dad won the 2005 Portuguese Open. He was nine when dad successfully defended the title a year later. Broadie’s greatest moment in senior golf came four years ago when he won the Senior Open Championship at Carnoustie. Sam caddied for him that week.

"It's nice to be able to show him that I'm still half-decent," Broadhurst said.

Tiger Woods talked last year of the added bonus of winning the Masters with his children able to fully comprehend what their father had achieved.

“To have both Sam and Charlie here, they were there at the British Open last year when I had the lead on that back nine, and I made a few mistakes, cost myself a chance to win The Open title,” Woods said. “I wasn't going to let that happen to them twice and so for them to see what it's like to have their dad win a major championship, I hope that's something they will never forget.”

They won’t.


Sergio Garcia finally got his major moment when he won the 2017 Masters. He missed the cut the following year, by which time daughter Azeala had arrived. He made clear his motivation following her birth. He wanted his wee lassie…

“…to be able to grow up and see the TV clips, the trophies I won after she was born, so she can be proud of her dad.”

In the aftermath of the 2018 Ryder Cup, Ian Poulter’s first thoughts turned to son Luke, who lived every moment as his postman father helped Europe win 17.5 – 10.5. Poulter tweeted:

“As a parent, these moments we get to spend with one another sometimes are few and far between, Luke, but when moments like this come around, I was not letting you down today. You lived every shot with us this week. Love you buddy. Dreams do come true.”

Paul Casey earned his first PGA Tour victory in nine years when he won the 2018 Valspar Championship. He’d been through hell since his 2009 Shell Houston Open victory. Having a settled family life with second wife Pollyanna and children Lex and Astaria more than made up for those winless years in the United States.

“I had gone through a lot, it was documented, injuries and divorce,” Casey said: “There was certainly low points, but for the last five, six years I've been very content and my life is wonderful with my family, my wife and my kids.”

McIlroy talked recently about lacking motivation, just going through the motions. No wonder: he had far more important things on his mind than guiding a wee white ball into a small dark hole. That much was obvious from one of his first quotes following the birth of his and Erica’s first child

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

We’re about to find out how fatherhood motivates McIlroy as he enters a crucial part of his career.

#JustSaying: “I’ve always had a wife – golf. No man should have more than one.” Fred McLeod, 1908 U.S. Open champion

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