McIlroy says U.S. Open final round ‘probably the toughest’ day in his career

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, reacts after missing a putt on the 16th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

Rory McIlroy has broken his silence following the final round of the U.S. Open calling Sunday “probably the toughest” day in his entire career.

McIlroy was in position to snap his decade-long drought at the majors with a one-shot lead over Bryson DeChambeau only to make a pair of uncharacteristic misses on short putts during the final three holes.

The 35-year-old McIlroy, who hadn’t missed a putt within four feet all tournament until that point, could only watch as DeChambeau claimed the championship by a single stroke.

McIlroy was spotted leaving Pinehurst No. 2 immediately in an SUV, spinning his tires in the gravel, without addressing the media.

“Yesterday was a tough day, probably the toughest I’ve had in my nearly 17 years as a professional golfer,” McIlroy said in a note posted to 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 plans to take a few weeks away from golf to “process everything and build (himself) back up” as he prepares for the Scottish Open plus the fourth and final major of the season, the British Open, which will take place July 18–21 at the Royal Troon Golf Club in South Ayrshire, Scotland.

That means he will skip the Travelers Championship, the final $20 million signature event on the PGA Tour schedule with a limited field and no cut.

Although McIlroy has captured four majors in his career, he hasn’t won one since the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla.

He also finished runner-up at the U.S. Open last year when it was held at the Los Angeles Country Club.

The 35-year-old from Northern Ireland has had a rough time outside the ropes, too. He filed for divorce from his wife, Erica, before the PGA Championship, and then filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss the divorce case right before the U.S. Open.

“He’ll win multiple more major championships. There’s no doubt,” DeChambeau told reporters. “That fire in him is going to continue to grow. I have nothing but respect for how he plays the game of golf because, to be honest, when he was climbing up the leaderboard, he was two ahead, I was like, ‘Uh-oh, uh-oh.’ But luckily things went my way today.”

— With files from the Associated Press

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