Rory McIlroy Jun 16, 2024; Pinehurst, North Carolina, USA; Rory McIlroy reacts on the eighteenth green during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Rory McIlroy’s stunning collapse in the final few holes of the 2024 U.S. Open has already taken on an almost mythical aura.

The PGA star, seeking his fifth major championship and first in a decade, bogeyed three of the final four holes, missing two short putts in the process, to lose the tournament by one stroke to Bryson DeChambeau.

Before McIlroy had even made his fast exit from Pinehurst No. 2, dodging reporters, many people were already throwing around the “McIlroy choked” narrative.

Fellow golf star Jon Rahm stood up for McIlroy Wednesday, addressing the short putt McIlroy missed on the final hole.

Here’s another look:

Rahm told Sports Illustrated that the putt on No. 18 was far more difficult than NBC on-course reporter Smylie Kaufman explained at the time.

“One of the things that absolutely burned me, and I think it was Smylie who said it, he severely underplayed how difficult Rory’s putt on 18 was,” Rahm said. “When he said it’s a left-center putt, if you hit that putt left-center and miss the hole, you’re off the green because of how much slope there is.

“You could see Rory aiming at least a cup left from 3 feet. They severely underplayed how difficult that putt was. Severely.”

Just before McIlroy’s putt, Kaufman said, “I got behind it, took a read. Not outside the hole. It’s a left-center putt, but you can make it if you start it right in the middle too.”

Rahm, talking to reporters in Nashville ahead of this week’s LIV Golf event there, said he did not blame the NBC reporter for his remarks, because sometimes it’s impossible for reporters to analyze a situation on certain courses.

“I think that can happen a few times,” Rahm said, “where unless you’ve been there on the golf course and you’re playing it or you’ve played it, it’s hard to truly explain how difficult the golf course can be, and a lot of times they only have those five seconds to say something quickly, so I also don’t blame them.”

Well, that only explains one of McIlroy’s three bogeys in those final four holes. He missed an even shorter putt, from 30 inches, on the 16th hole, his first miss from inside 3 feet in 496 attempts this season.

No wonder McIlroy avoided reporters after the final round. On a similar note, many fans thought that NBC analyst Brandel Chamblee was unfair in his commentary on DeChambeau during the final round.

[The New York Post]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.