Next major title worth ‘100 Sundays like this’ insists Rory McIlroy

By Sports Desk June 19, 2023

Rory McIlroy insisted he would endure the pain of another 100 near-misses as long as he finally ends his major championship drought.

McIlroy held a share of the lead when he two-putted the par-five opening hole of Sunday’s final round of the 123rd US Open, but that would prove his only birdie of a disappointing closing 70.

Wyndham Clark’s own 70 was enough to give the 29-year-old American his first major title at Los Angeles Country Club, while McIlroy has now recorded 19 top-10 finishes since winning his fourth in the 2014 US PGA.

Asked if it was exhausting to keep being asked about another missed opportunity, McIlroy said: “It is, but at the same time when I do finally win this next major it’s going to be really, really sweet.

“I would go through 100 Sundays like this to get my hands on another major championship.”

McIlroy conceded his underwhelming final round had echoes of last year’s Open Championship, when he held a share of the lead, carded two birdies in a closing 70 and was overhauled by Cameron Smith’s brilliant 64.

“The last real two chances I’ve had at majors I feel like have been pretty similar performances, like St Andrews last year and then here,” the world number three added.

“Not doing a lot wrong, but I didn’t make a birdie since the first hole today. Overall when you’re in contention going into the final round of a US Open, I played the way I wanted to play.

“There was just a couple of shots, two or three shots over the course of the round that I’d like to have back.”

The first of those was a missed birdie putt from four feet on the eighth, which played the easiest hole in the final round, and the second his approach to the par-five 14th which plugged in the face of a greenside bunker.

McIlroy did get relief for an embedded ball, but failed to get up and down to save par and Clark’s birdie on the same hole moments later gave him what ultimately proved a vital three-shot lead.

“As I was walking up to it (on 14), it felt like it was a perfect full sand wedge. Hit it hard, get some spin on it,” McIlroy explained.

“Then while we were getting prepared for the shot, the wind started to freshen a little bit. Full sand wedge wasn’t getting there, so I said to Harry (Diamond, his caddie), three-quarter gap wedge would be perfect.

“I feel like I didn’t time the shot perfectly. I hit it when the wind was at its strongest and the ball just got hit a lot by the wind, and obviously it came up short.

“If I had it back, I think I had the right club and the right shot. I might have just had to wait an extra 15 or 20 seconds to let that little gust settle.”

McIlroy’s next chance to end his drought will come at next month’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, where he lifted the Claret Jug in 2014.

Asked when the countdown to the Open would begin, McIlroy joked: “Three minutes ago, I guess. I’ll play Travelers next week, I’ll play the Scottish Open, but I’m focused on making sure that I’m ready to go for Liverpool.”

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    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.

  • DeChambeau excited for more McIlroy battles following U.S. Open glory DeChambeau excited for more McIlroy battles following U.S. Open glory

    Bryson DeChambeau is looking forward to more final-round battles with Rory McIlroy following his second U.S. Open triumph at Pinehurst on Sunday. 

    DeChambeau headed into the final round in North Carolina with a three-shot lead over the field, but soon found himself two behind the Northern Irishman three holes into the back nine. 

    A birdie at the 13th regained the American's composure, with McIlroy making bogey in three of the last four holes, including an agonising miss on18 to hand DeChambeau the victory. 

    The fifth major title continues to elude McIlroy, last winning at the 2014 PGA Championship, but DeChambeau labelled the world number two as one of the best to play the game and is excited for future tussles on the golf course. 

    "Rory is one of the best to ever play," DeChambeau said. "Being able to fight against a great like that is pretty special. I'd love to have a lot more battles with him.

    "I have nothing but respect for how he plays the game of golf... to be honest, when he was climbing up the leaderboard, I was like, 'Uh-oh', but luckily things went my way today.

    "For him to miss that putt [on the 18th], I'd never wish it on anybody.

    "I'm sure it will fuel Rory's fire even more. He's a strong-minded individual. He'll win multiple more major championships, there's no doubt."

    McIlroy's missed putt at 18 opened the door for DeChambeau to capitalise, but a wayward drive left him hunched under a tree, forcing him to punch out to a greenside bunker to set up a nervy finish. 

    However, the American would produce a moment of magic to place the ball within four feet of the hole, going on to say it was the shot of his life. 

    "That bunker shot was the shot of my life," DeChambeau reflected.

    "I knew where Rory was. After my tee shot, I was up there going, 'Man, if he makes par, I don't know how I'm going to beat him'. I just really didn't know.

    "Then I heard the moans. It was like a shot of adrenaline got in me. I said, 'Okay, you can do this'. I'm so happy I got that shot up-and-down."

  • McIlroy's U.S. Open misses will haunt him for the rest of his life, says Faldo McIlroy's U.S. Open misses will haunt him for the rest of his life, says Faldo

    Rory McIlroy's shocking misses at the U.S. Open could haunt him for the rest of his career, believes six-time major champion Nick Faldo.

    McIlroy looked to be in pole position to end his 10-year major drought on the final day of play at Pinehurst on Sunday, as four birdies in a five-hole stretch gave him a two-shot lead over Bryson DeChambeau.

    However, things unravelled for the Northern Irishman in spectacular fashion, as he missed a putt from less than three yards to save par on the 15th.

    Despite following that up with a bogey on the 16th, McIlroy still shared the lead with DeChambeau as he approached the final hole.

    He then missed another four-foot putt to hand the initiative to DeChambeau, who produced a brilliant bunker shot then made no mistake for his own close-range par, clinching his second major title by a single shot.

    McIlroy left Pinehurst without speaking to the media as DeChambeau celebrated his second U.S. Open crown in the last five editions, and Faldo believes he may never fully get over his misses.

    "That's going to haunt Rory for the rest of his life, those two misses," Faldo said in his role of co-commentator for Sky Sports.

    "It was an unbelievable finish. That was a four of all fours to finish from Bryson and the celebration of all celebrations! 

    "Rory will be broken-hearted, so I feel for him. He's going to be gutted, absolutely gutted."

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