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Rory McIlroy will make his return at the Scottish Open next week – yet the inquest is still ongoing.

And question is largely the same. Just how did McIlroy manage not to win that US Open?

The Northern Irishman has taken a short break from the game to process that tortuous end at Pinehurst No.2, but will defend his title at the Renaissance Club before the Open at Royal Troon.

In those 19 days since falling agonisingly short to champion Bryson DeChambeau, the golf world has fiercely debated what went wrong.

The facts are that McIlroy, in a winning position to end nearly a decade of major heartache, missed a putt from 3 feet, 9 inches on his 72nd hole, and 2 feet 6 inches on his 70th, to lose out by one.

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Smylie Kaufman, however, believes McIlroy’s dropped shot on the par-3 15th was just as damaging.

“I felt like (caddie) Harry Diamond really should have stepped in on the 15th hole,” the ex-PGA Tour pro turned NBC analyst said on GOLF’s Subpar podcast.

“He did not have the right club in his hands. And I felt like Rory could have taken control of the championship on 15 if he just hits it in the middle of the green. And he hit a good shot. But it just was the wrong club.

“And never, never was a 7-iron for Rory. Especially with a right flag. If the wind was down off the right, it’s not exactly a flag and a wind condition and the heat to be able to land it in a hula hoop, where you got to hit this kind of soft, spinny, fade 7-iron. It was an 8-iron all day, hit it in the middle of the green.”

Of course, McIlroy went long.  He only managed to hit his difficult chip shot to around 30ft and missed the putt, which began a devastating closing stretch of three bogeys in his last four holes.

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“I would say that was a huge, huge mistake,” Kaufman added.

Diamond was then called into question once more.

“I don’t really ever see Harry stepping in a ton. Rory always, if he has a question, he’ll ask, but for the most part, Rory kind of goes and does his thing and he’s got a lot of feel,” he explained.

“In my head, as a player, when you execute a shot exactly how you’re supposed to and it ends up in a terrible spot, you have to look at, all right, what happened here. Because that’s what happened at the 15th hole.”

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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