Rory McIlroy reflects on U.S. Open loss: Got ‘out of my own little world’

Rory McIlroy reflects on U.S. Open loss: Got ‘out of my own little world’
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NORTH BERWICK, Scotland – In the days following his loss at the U.S. Open, Rory McIlroy spent his time in New York City, alone with his thoughts and the always infectious notion of missed opportunities.

There were countless scenarios to unpack from a dramatic Sunday at Pinehurst No. 2 – his missed 2 ½-footer for par at the 16th hole to squander a two-shot lead being the primary culprit – but the Northern Irishman embraced a more holistic approach to process a finish that included three bogeys over his final four holes.

“Thinking back, maybe I was a little too aware of where [U.S. Open winner Bryson DeChambeau] was and what he was doing, but it was the nature of the golf course and how the golf course flowed,” McIlroy said Wednesday at the Genesis Scottish Open, his first start since Pinehurst. “It just made me very aware of what he was doing [and] it sort of got me out of my own little world a little bit.”

McIlroy’s caddie, Harry Diamond, has faced criticism since McIlroy’s U.S. Open collapse.

McIlroy was poised to end a decade-long drought in the major championships with a two-stroke lead with five holes to play at Pinehurst, but the bogey at No. 16 started the spiral, and another at the 72nd hole, this time a missed 4-footer, left him a shot behind DeChambeau.

“It’s been a while since I’ve won a major,” McIlroy said, “but I felt worse after some other losses. I felt worse after Augusta (2011 Masters) and I felt worse after St Andrews (2021 Open). It was up there with the tough losses but not the toughest.”

Although McIlroy attempted to view Sunday at Pinehurst through a wider lenses, he also admitted there were moments during the final round that didn’t feel normal, starting with his par putt at the 16th hole.

“I can vividly remember starting to feel a little uncomfortable waiting for my second putt on 16, and you know, the putt on the last, it was a really tricky putt. I was very aware of where Bryson was off the tee [on the 18th hole]. I knew I had to hit it really soft. If the one back didn’t matter, I would have hit it firmer,” he said.

McIlroy went to New York City from Pinehurst for a pre-arranged trip, and he said the time alone – often walking the High Line, a 1.45-mile long elevated trail in Manhattan’s west side – allowed him to come to terms with his best chance to win a major since 2014.

“Sort of was alone with my thoughts for a couple days, which was good,” he said. “I had some good chats with people close to me, and as you start to think about not just Sunday at Pinehurst but the whole way throughout the weak, there was a couple of things that I noticed that I wanted to try to work on over the last few weeks coming into here, and obviously next week at Troon.

“They were hard but at the same time, as each day went by, it became easier to focus on the positives and then to think about the future instead of what had just happened.”

McIlroy was also asked if he regretted his decision to not speak with the media following the final round at Pinehurst.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “It would have been good because you guys would have been able to write something about it or have a few quotes from me. No offense, you guys were the least of my worries at that point.”

McIlroy is the defending champion at this week’s Scottish Open, where he beat Robert MacIntyre with back-to-back birdies to close his round on Sunday.

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