Rory McIlroy wasted no time leaving after US Open heartbreak

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Sir Nick Faldo told Sky Sports that two short missed putts on the 16th and 18th would “haunt Rory for the rest of his life”.
Posted on
June 17, 2024
The Editorial Team in
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

It took Rory McIlroy less than an hour to get from signing his card after the final gut-wrenching round of the US Open to being in mid-air on his plane home.

How long it will take him to get over the heart-breaking events at Pinehurst, if he ever can, remains to be seen.

In 20 previous top-10 finishes in major championships since his last victory in the 2014 US PGA, McIlroy has never had the title within his grasp with just a handful of holes to play in the manner that he did on Sunday.

Twelve months ago he birdied the first during the final round at Los Angeles Country Club to briefly hold a share of the lead before Wyndham Clark birdied the same hole to resume top spot.

McIlroy would not make another birdie, bogeyed the 14th after hitting his third shot into the face of a bunker and ultimately finished one behind Clark.

The 35-year-old had also shared the lead after 54 holes of the 2022 Open at St Andrews and covered his first 10 holes in two under par before the birdies again dried up and he was overhauled by Cameron Smith’s 64 and a 65 by Cameron Young.

At Pinehurst there were plenty of birdies as McIlroy holed from 20 feet at the first and recovered from an unfortunate dropped shot on the fifth to make four birdies in five holes from the ninth from a combined distance of 70 feet.

A two-shot lead was admittedly brief as DeChambeau, playing in the group behind, also birdied the driveable 13th, but it is what happened on the 16th and 18th which will, in the words of Sir Nick Faldo on Sky Sports, “haunt Rory for the rest of his life”.

A dejected Rory McIlroy reacts on the 18th green
Rory McIlroy puts his head in his hands after a bogey on the 72nd hole of the US Open (USGA/Jeff Haynes)

McIlroy missed from two feet and six inches for par on the 16th – his first miss all season from inside three feet – and then from three feet and nine inches on the last after a well-judged chip from short of the green.

According to tracking site radaratlas2, McIlroy’s private plane was in the air 53 minutes after DeChambeau’s brilliant par save on the 18th secured his second US Open title.

McIlroy is the first player to finish in the top 10 at six consecutive US Opens since Jack Nicklaus from 1977-82 and the first to do so without winning any of them since Jack Hobens from 1905-10.

“Nobody’s had more pressure on him over the last 10 years,” McIlroy’s putting coach Brad Faxon said on Golf Channel.

“Everybody in the world knows he hasn’t won a major since 2014. I think it’s the way this happened; the short missed putts there on 16, certainly on 18. I don’t know how you get through this thing. It’s really tough.”

Former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley added: “That element of doubt came in.

“He started backing away, which he never does. He took a little more time over the putts, which he never does. That’s pressure and he succumbed to it.

“(It’s) a devastating loss for any player, not just Rory. It’s absolutely devastating. Rory has faltered coming down the stretch.”

After leaving Pinehurst without speaking to the media, McIlroy is currently scheduled to give a press conference on Wednesday ahead of the Travelers Championship.

It could make for painful viewing.

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