McIlroy set for break after toughest day of career in US Open collapse

By Sports Desk June 17, 2024

Rory McIlroy intends to take a break from golf after his US Open collapse as the Northern Irishman bemoaned the toughest day of his career following further major disappointment at Pinehurst.

The four-time major champion has not triumphed in one of golf's top events since 2014 at the PGA Championship.

McIlroy came within touching distance of ending that decade-long wait on Sunday but fell short in disappointing circumstances as Bryson DeChambeau claimed the US Open title by a shot in North Carolina.

The 35-year-old McIlroy managed to bogey three of his final four holes in the last round at Pinehurst's No.2 course, including a woeful miss from a short putting distance on the 18th.

DeChambeau was left to save par with an impressive up-and-down from the near-side bunker, leaving McIlroy to rue another missed opportunity on the major stage.

"Yesterday was a tough day, probably the toughest I've had in my nearly 17 years as a professional golfer," McIlroy wrote on social media.

"Firstly, I'd like to congratulate Bryson. He is a worthy champion and exactly what professional golf needs right now. I think we can all agree on that.

"As I reflect on my week, I'll rue a few things over the course of the tournament, mostly the two missed putts on 16 and 18 on the final day.

"But, as I always try to do, I'll look at the positives of the week that far outweigh the negatives. As I said at the start of the tournament, I feel closer to winning my next major championship than I ever have.

"The one word that I would describe my career as is resilient. I've shown my resilience over and over again in the last 17 years and I will again."

McIlroy was expected to play in this week's Travelers Championship in Connecticut.

However, the world number two confirmed he will not feature as McIlroy prepares for a break after suffering a brutal blow to his major hopes.

"I'm going to take a few weeks away from the game to process everything and build myself back up for my defence of the Genesis Scottish Open and The Open at Royal Troon," he concluded.

The Scottish Open does not start until July 11, leaving McIlroy with almost a month to recover from this setback.

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    Brian Harman is certain of his capabilities to defend The Open Championship trophy at Royal Troon, where the American expects crowd heckling to calm down after last year's incidents.

    Harman clinched a maiden major title last year at Royal Liverpool after coasting to a six-shot victory for his first PGA Tour triumph in six years.

    The world number 13 hopes to reunite with the famed Claret Jug in Scotland, though expects the course – and the spectators – to pose a different challenge to last year's success.

    Harman described the abuse as "unrepeatable", with many mocking his pre-shot routines and heckling in an all-round attempt to put off the soon-to-be champion.

    "It doesn't bother me," Harman told Monday's pre-tournament press conference when asked about the incidents at the 151st Open.

    "I'm ready to take whatever in my stride. I'm here to play the best golf that I possibly can. That's my main focus.

    "I've always loved the fans over here. I've spoken a bunch of times about how I find them the most knowledgeable fans of any that we play in front of.

    "I kind of chalk last year up as more of an anomaly than anything else."

    The 37-year-old finished tied for 21st in the Scottish Open, a warm-up event for the major at Royal Troon, but has three top-10 finishes in the PGA Tour in 2024.

    Having shared fifth place at The Sentry, second at the Players Championship and ninth in the Travelers Championship, Harman is in decent form.

    He is now looking to become the first player since Padraig Harrington in 2007 and 2008 to win back-to-back Open titles.

    "Anytime that you become a major champion it certainly elevates your status in the game, elevates the way that you're perceived in the game," Harman added.

    "I try to take all of that in my stride, but at the same time understand that the golf is the most important thing, and I've tried to improve my golf game and get it in a place where I can maybe contend in some more majors down the road.

    "My stats this year have been really good. My ball striking has been as good as it's ever been. The only thing I haven't done well this year is I haven't putted especially well. So I'm just kind of waiting for it all to line up correctly.

    "You can work and work and work. You just never know when that work is going to pay off. You never know when the peak is coming, when you're going to catch a little bit of momentum.

  • The Open: McIlroy looking to respond after Nadal and Jordan support following Pinehurst setback The Open: McIlroy looking to respond after Nadal and Jordan support following Pinehurst setback

    Rory McIlroy insists his U.S. Open capitulation is behind him as he aims to respond at The Open Championship, backed by support from two sporting stars.

    The Northern Irishman collapsed in remarkable fashion at Pinehurst, missing two simple putts as Bryson DeChambeau sneaked in to profit and win the major.

    Spanish tennis great Rafael Nadal and NBA legend Michael Jordan both reached out to McIlroy in the aftermath of that disappointment.

    The 35-year-old has now racked up four runners-up finishes in majors since his last such victory at the PGA Championship in 2014.

    Yet McIlroy is intent on responding when The Open returns at Royal Troon this week.

    "Rafa Nadal and Michael Jordan," McIlroy told The Guardian. "Two of the most unbelievable competitors that have ever been in sport.

    "MJ was maybe the first person to text me after I missed the putt on the 18th but both of them got in touch very, very quickly. They just told me to keep going. MJ reminded me of how many game-winning shots he missed. Really nice."

    The four-time major champion scored bogeys on three of his final four holes during his U.S. Open downfall.

    "Was it a great opportunity to win a major? Absolutely," McIlroy added of his short-putting nightmare. "It hurt and in the moment it was tough, terrible.

    "I'd say people would be surprised to see how quickly I got over it and moved on."

    McIlroy subsequently took a short break before returning at the Scottish Open last week, finishing tied for fourth place at the Renaissance Club.

    "Maybe the one drawback from me not talking [to media] afterwards was that you got three weeks of speculation," McIlroy said, referring to his swift exit at Pinehurst. 

    "He should have done this, should have done that but we will never know because he didn't say. I trust the people around me. I don't need to go looking for external counsel.

    "If the tournament ended after 68 holes, people would be calling me the best golfer in the world. You have to be an eternal optimist. Say you play 25 events a year and win three of those. You are one of the best players in history. We lose way more than we win.

    "Yes, I was in a great winning position and should have won but it's not the first time I have let something slip away. It's probably not going to be the last.

    "You have to look at it on the continuum. It was tough but it is one tournament, I play 23-25 per year. You have to keep going.

    "The great thing about this game is you have an opportunity to get back on the horse right after a tough loss. You try to learn from it and do better next time."

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    Rory McIlroy is hoping to get his putter to "cooperate" at The Open Championship this week after two close-range misses cost him at the recent U.S. Open.

    McIlroy was in contention to end his 10-year major drought at Pinehurst last month, only to miss two putts from inside four feet on the last three holes of his final round.

    Those missed opportunities allowed Bryson DeChambeau to edge him out by one shot and claim his second U.S. Open title, having previously triumphed in 2020.

    McIlroy finished in a share of fourth at the Scottish Open last week, four shots behind winner Robert MacIntyre, as he again struggled on the greens.

    Speaking after the conclusion of his final round at The Renaissance Club, the world number two said getting his putting game into shape had been his main aim for the week.

    "The reason that I like to play the week before the majors is to knock a little bit of rust off and try to get sharp, and I feel like I've done that this week," McIlroy told the PGA Tour website.

    "If I can get the putter to cooperate and get the speed of the greens down... I feel like I'll be in a really good spot."

    Reflecting on his overall showing, McIlroy added: "I felt like the ball-striking was there pretty much every day.

    "There were a few scrappy bits here and there, but overall, it was a good week to see where my game is heading into next week, especially on the back of three weeks off.

    "Pleased with the week with one eye on trying to defend here, but obviously an eye on trying to get prepared for Troon as well."

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