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Jon Rahm has leapt to Rory McIlroy’s defence after his devastating near miss at the US Open. 

McIlroy had a two-shot lead with five holes to play, but bogeyed three of his final four holes, letting Bryson DeChambeau pip him to the title in dramatic fashion at Pinehurst.

The crestfallen McIlroy left the North Carolina property immediately without speaking to the media, but wrote in a statement on Monday that he will “mostly rue the two missed putts on 16 and 18” in Sunday’s final round.

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McIlroy had nailed 496 putts inside three feet in a row this season before missing from two feet and six inches on the par-four 16th at Pinehurst.

But his chance to save par after a wayward tee shot on 18 was slightly more tricky, a sliding left-to-right putt from just inside four feet that was also missed on the low side.

Rahm, who was watching the drama unfold back home in Arizona whilst recovering from a foot infection that kept him out of the tournament, thinks the difficulty of McIlroy’s chance was not given enough respect on TV coverage.

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Speaking ahead of his return at LIV Golf Nashville, Rahm said: “One of the things that absolutely burned me – and I think it was Smylie [Kaufman] who said it – he’s severely underplayed how difficult Rory’s putt on 18 was.

“When he said it was a left centre putt. If you hit that putt left centre and you miss the hole you’re off the green because of how much slope there was. You could see Rory aiming at least a cup left from three feet. They severely underplayed how difficult that putt was.”

After missing last week’s major with his foot injury, Rahm is back fit for the ninth regular event of the LIV season at The Grove starting on Friday.

McIlroy, meanwhile, won’t return until next month’s Scottish Open as he “takes a few weeks away from the game” to process his heartbreaking finish in this year’s penultimate major.

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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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