Rory McIlroy set to defend Tour Championship title after wife gives birth to couple's first child

ATLANTA -- Rory McIlroy will defend his Tour Championship title this week after announcing Thursday that his wife, Erica, had given birth on Monday.

McIlroy said via social media that Poppy Kennedy McIlroy, the couple's first child, was born in Florida. "She is the absolute love of our lives,'' McIlroy wrote.

Last week at the BMW Championship, McIlroy had said the baby was due "any day'' and that he was prepared to withdraw from the tournament or this week's Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club.

"Mother and baby are doing great,'' said McIlroy, 31, a four-time major champion who won last year's Tour Championship and FedEx Cup.

His tee time on Friday is at 1:30 p.m. ET.

McIlroy said he was "emotionally drained" before practicing Thursday at East Lake.

"We got her home yesterday and trying to get her settled into the -- it's nice in the hospital. You've got so much help and all the nurses are around and they did a phenomenal job. You don't appreciate that side of things, as well.

"And then you're handed your child and they're like, 'See you later,' and they don't come with an instruction manual. Look, every parent has to sort of go through it, and we're going through it. Thankfully Erica has her mom and sister with her at the minute, so she's got plenty of help and I feel a little better leaving and coming here to play this week.''

With the staggered-strokes format used for the Tour Championship, based on final position in the FedEx Cup standings, McIlroy will start the first round seven strokes back of leader Dustin Johnson. McIlroy enters 12th in the standings.

McIlroy, who is ranked fourth in the world, has not finished among the top 10 in any of his eight starts since golf resumed from the pandemic break.

"It's been hard to think about golf the last few days just because I've been so focused on making sure that everything is OK at home,'' he said. "Maybe this is what I needed, just for everything to happen and go well.

"I haven't played my best since coming back out since sort of post-COVID. But yeah, maybe things just will fall into place. It's already been the best week of my life, and this would obviously just be the icing on the cake.''