Monday, July 15, 2024

Rory McIlroy storms out after ‘biggest choke in history of golf’ in final US Open round without congratulating Bryson DeChambeau – days after golf star’s shock divorce U-turn

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A devastated Rory McIlroy fled the course immediately – and apparently without congratulating Bryson DeChambeau – after a humiliating collapse in the closing holes of the US Open amid turmoil in his private life.

The Northern Irish golfer, 35, was in total control and was set to win one of the four golfing majors for the first time in more than a decade only to miss two 3ft putts in the last three holes.

The two megastar personalities of golf, Rory the PGA Tour’s figurehead and Bryson LIV’s talisman, went head-to-head at Pinehurst in North Carolina.

Despite trouble in his private life after he filed for divorce from his wife of seven years Erica Stoll only to call off the split on the eve of the 124th US Open, Rory found himself with a two-shot lead with just five holes to go.

But he frittered away the lead with errant drives and shaky putting before Bryson played one of the great long bunker shots in majors history to save par on the 18th holes.

McIlroy didn’t speak to the press as he departed Pinehurst immediately after watching American hole the winning putt from the scorer’s hut – and without congratulating Bryson, according to the Daily Telegraph’s James Corrigan. DeChambeau reportedly asked officials where Rory was and why he had not seen him in the aftermath of his win.

He was then seen putting his bag in the boot of a Lexus and is understood to have headed straight to the airport and on to a private jet to Florida to be reunited with his wife Erica, 35, and three-year-old daughter Poppy.

Rory McIlroy‘s fans, millions of whom stayed up late into the night in Ireland and the UK, were also bereft after he blew his chance and let another major title slip agonisingly from his grasp.

Rory McIlroy was a picture of devastation after throwing the US Open away on Sunday as he watched Bryson DeChambeau win (pictured in the scorer’s hut after the winning putt went in)

Rory speaks to his caddy and best friend Harry Diamond as they packed up the Lexus to leave

Rory speaks to his caddy and best friend Harry Diamond as they packed up the Lexus to leave

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland putts and misses the 18th hole during the final round of the 124th US Open golf championship

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland putts and misses the 18th hole during the final round of the 124th US Open golf championship

Rory was in a winning position but made a number of errors that handed the title to Bryson, who was similarly nervous down the stretch

Rory was in a winning position but made a number of errors that handed the title to Bryson, who was similarly nervous down the stretch

Rory was in the air and on the way back to Florida to be with his wife Erica and daughter Poppy. McIlroy filed for divorce only to tear it up on the eve of the US Open, finding himself with the win in his grasp

Rory was in the air and on the way back to Florida to be with his wife Erica and daughter Poppy. McIlroy filed for divorce only to tear it up on the eve of the US Open, finding himself with the win in his grasp

On leaving Pinehurst, a clearly bereft Rory said a solemn goodbye to his caddy Harry Diamond, who he grew up with in Holywood, Co Down. 

Outspoken British golfer Eddie Pepperell said Rory should consider be replacing his best friend Harry with a new bagman after McIlroy made errors including using a driver on the 18th that grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory. BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter today questioned whether Rory could ‘ever recover’ from the disaster at Pinehurst yesterday on their Chipping Forecast podcast with Andrew Cotter.

Since winning the 2014 PGA Championship, McIlroy has posted 20 top-10 finishes in majors, including nine top 5s. 

With the tournament at his mercy and leading by two shots with five holes to play, McIlroy collapsed at the finish with bogeys on three of his final four holes, including a heart-breaker at the 18th.

The Northern Irishman amazingly missed from two feet and six inches for par on the 16th and less than four feet on the 18th to suffer another scarcely believable end in his 10-year pursuit for a fifth Major.

McIlroy did not hang around to speak to media and was pictured by golf reporter Jason Sobel packing his clubs into a car after Bryson DeChambeau made sure of victory.

Bryson DeChambeau of the US hits out of the bunker to the 18th green during the final round of the 2024 US Open - considered one of the greatest shots for many years

Bryson DeChambeau of the US hits out of the bunker to the 18th green during the final round of the 2024 US Open – considered one of the greatest shots for many years

Bryson, the poster boy for LIV, went wild when the winning putt went in

Bryson, the poster boy for LIV, went wild when the winning putt went in

It is Bryson's second US Open title

It is Bryson’s second US Open title

NBC, the tournament broadcaster in the US, also said McIlroy declined to be interviewed.

Video also emerged of a devastated McIlroy watching DeChambeau wrap up glory in the clubhouse. It was an ending that may well be considered more painful than 2011 Masters implosion.

But that will be for the analysts to decide over the coming days. As DeChambeau got his hands on the trophy, McIlroy’s tires spun in the gravel of the parking lot as he fled to lick his wounds.

It marks a disastrous end to another extraordinary week for McIlroy, who on Tuesday night announced he was calling off his divorce from wife Erica. 

In a May 13 court filing – days before the PGA Championship at Valhalla – his attorney had said the marriage was irretrievably broken.

‘There have been rumors about my personal life recently, which is unfortunate,’ McIlroy said in the statement. ‘Responding to each rumor is a fool’s game.  Over the past weeks, Erica and I have realized that our best future was as a family together. Thankfully, we have resolved our differences and look forward to a new beginning.’

But for such a large part of Sunday’s final round, it looked like McIlroy was going to write a fairytale happy ending to such a tumultuous period of his life. 

Starting the day three shots behind DeChambeau, McIlroy made the ideal start with a birdie from 20 feet on the first and found himself just a shot behind when DeChambeau bogeyed the fourth. 

McIlroy was two shots ahead by the time he was walking to the 14th tee. The ‘Rory’ chants grew louder and DeChambeau could hear them. 

McIlroy pictured leaving the 18th green in shock after missing a second straightforward putt

McIlroy pictured leaving the 18th green in shock after missing a second straightforward putt 

McIlroy's week began with him calling off his divorce from wife of seven years, Erica Stoll

McIlroy’s week began with him calling off his divorce from wife of seven years, Erica Stoll 

McIlroy took bogey from behind the 15th green, but he stayed one ahead when DeChambeau, playing in the group behind him, had his first three-putt of the week on the 15th when he missed from 4 feet.

And that’s where the U.S. Open took an agonizing turn for McIlroy. He missed a 30-inch par putt on the 16th hole to fall back into a tie. On the 18th, McIlroy’s tee shot landed behind a notorious wiregrass bush. He blasted out short of the green and pitched beautifully to 4 feet. And he missed again.

McIlroy was watching from the scoring room as DeChambeau escaped from an awful lie left of the fairway – a tree in his back swing, a root in front of the golf ball – and punched it out into the bunker. 

He expertly blasted a shot from the soft sand that rolled out on the green to set up the winning putt.

And from there, Rory could do nothing but pack his bags.

It means McIlroy’s last major triumph remains the PGA Championship back in August 2014.

With the tournament there for the taking, McIlroy missed two putts inside four feet

With the tournament there for the taking, McIlroy missed two putts inside four feet 

McIlroy looked set to win the US Open but bogeyed three of his final four holes on Sunday

McIlroy looked set to win the US Open but bogeyed three of his final four holes on Sunday

McIlroy was left visibly stunned by the putt that refused to drop on the 18th green

McIlroy was left visibly stunned by the putt that refused to drop on the 18th green 

A fifth major title continues to prove elusive for the Northern Irishman and he has now come second at a major on four occasions since 2014. 

And fans were quick to express their sympathy for McIlroy after taking to social media to reflect on Sunday’s action.

One said: ‘That’s hard to watch. Plus three for last four holes. Absolute torture for Rory McIlroy. He still has The Open & Olympics to add something to his cv, but it’s hard not to feel for him even if you are not a fan.’

Another added: ‘I don’t know how Rory McIlroy can recover from that kind of choke. Bryson took advantage of all the mistakes.’  

Meanwhile, ESPN pundit Mike Greenberg said. ‘Rory McIlroy is an all-time talent, I hope against hope he gets another someday. 

‘But this one is going to stick. Two shot lead, two putts less than three feet each. In a snakebitten decade, this has got to be the toughest to take.’

A further supporter was critical of McIlroy’s collapse as they said: ‘One of the worst choke jobs in the history of golf out of Rory McIlroy. Gifted Bryson DeChambeau that win on a silver platter,’ while an extra fan added: ‘How does he lose from that position, 26 time PGA and 17 time DP tour winner? Its unfathomable.’ 

The Northern Irishman's dramatic collapse allowed Bryson DeChambeau to steal the victory

The Northern Irishman’s dramatic collapse allowed Bryson DeChambeau to steal the victory

An extra fan even mocked McIlroy as they posted a clip of the American sports comedy film Happy Gilmore, and added: ‘Rory tapping in for par.’

McIlroy’s misfiring putting at the 16th hole also came after he had not missed a putt inside three feet so far this season.

McIlroy’s next chance to win a major will be at The Open Championship  at the Royal Troon Golf Club in Scotland in July. 

Alongside McIlroy’s 2014 PGA Championship victory, the Northern Irishman won the Open that year, which was his second-most recent major victory. 

Fans expressed their sympathy for McIlroy, but others were critical of the Northern Irishman

Fans expressed their sympathy for McIlroy, but others were critical of the Northern Irishman

Following Sunday’s events, McIlroy did not speak to the media after he watched DeChambeau, who was in the group behind, hole his winning putt, with the Northern Irishman departing the course soon after.

However, speaking after his victory, DeChambeau was magnanimous and hailed his rival.

‘Rory is one of the best to ever play,’ he said. ‘Being able to fight against a great like that is pretty special. 

‘For him to miss that putt (on 18), I’d never wish it on anybody. Luckily, things went my way.’

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