On Sunday, Rory McIlroy finally cashed in.
After 18 months of swing changes, struggles, and oddly founded suppositions of newfound ‘perspective’, McIlroy won the Wells Fargo Championship.
The win was the 19th of his career and the first since shifting from longtime swing coach Michael Bannon to renowned guru Pete Cowen earlier this year. It was Cowen who helped steer McIlroy’s occasional sparring partner Brooks Koepka to consecutive victories at both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship just two years ago. Now, the 70-year-old Brit has steered another four-time major champion into the winner’s circle, just weeks before the PGA Championship returns to the site of McIlroy’s dominant win in 2012.
But swing thoughts and tweaks were far from the conversation on Sunday in Charlotte, largely because the win marked another first for Rory: his first victory since the birth of his daughter, Poppy. As McIlroy came down the stretch at Quail Hollow, CBS’s cameras focused not on McIlroy’s coach but on his wife, Erica Stoll, who celebrated her first Mother’s Day from outside the ropes, with baby in tow.
As McIlroy surged into the lead — working his way up the 18th fairway with a two-stroke advantage — he couldn’t help but appreciate the gravity of the moment.
“Yeah, really cool. For it to be Erica’s first Mother’s Day and for her to be here with Poppy, really, really cool,” he said afterward. “It was hard for me not to think of that coming down the last few holes and how cool that would be to see them at the back of the 18th green, but I had more pressing issues at the time, so it was pretty easy to get it out of my head. Really cool for them to be here and to be able to celebrate today.”
When Rory finished out his two-putt on the 18th to clinch the victory, Erica and Poppy made their way inside the ropes, where cameras captured the three share a heartwarming embrace.
It’s been a challenging stretch for the four-time major champ — one marked by trial and inconsistency. But on Mother’s Day at the Wells Fargo Championship, for a brief moment, it was all worth it.
“There’s been a lot of hard work. I’ve put my head down, I haven’t really looked too much in either direction, I’ve just tried to do what I need to do. You know, for a couple of months there, all that hard work seemed like it was not really getting anywhere, wasn’t providing me with much,” he said. “I mean, yeah, relief that I’ve won again, relief that my season is sort of back on track, and more just satisfaction at the journey that I’m on and the process that I’ve been going through to try to get back to this point.”