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The inquest is well under way – and the same question will keep being asked. 

How did Rory McIlroy not win that US Open? 

It’s the question the crestfallen Northern Irishman has to ponder as he reflects on the “toughest day I’ve had in my nearly 17 years as a professional golfer.”

McIlroy had a two shot lead with five holes to play, but two short missed putts on 16 and 18 allowed Bryson DeChambeau to snatch victory at Pinehurst.

He will now take a few weeks away from the game to process the devastating collapse, confirming he will return for his defence of next month’s Genesis Scottish Open.

But can McIlroy recover and be ready to contend once more in The Open at Royal Troon? His former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley and Brandel Chamblee disagree on the main issue holding McIlroy back in the majors.

• Sorry, Rory, but there’s only one word to describe that US Open finish

• 29 random thoughts and takeaways from a dramatic US Open

Speaking on the Golf Channel, McGinley is convinced that McIlroy suffers from a mental block in the biggest moments.

“He has had chances to win three majors in the last two years,” the Irishman said. “He hasn’t lost them because his swing deserted him, he lost them because his putting went slow and when he had opportunities he didn’t seize initiative…

If you hesitate with guys like Bryson around you, who plays with fearlessness, you’ve got a problem… That’s what I think is the issue..

“He underperforms in the heat of battle. The first three days he gets in position every single time and doesn’t close the door.

“The reason he hasn’t won majors is not because his game deserts him on Sunday, it’s because he lacks confidence to drive over the line like he does in PGA Tour events.

“That’s the difference.”

• Rory McIlroy breaks silence after US Open disappearing act

• Rory McIlroy ‘needs a new caddie’, says DP World Tour star

Whilst it is still accepted that he succumbed to the pressure on Sunday, Chamblee argues that technical flaws are exposing McIlroy when he’s trying to get over the line.

“Don’t get my wrong, I love Rory’s golf swing,” Chamblee stressed. “It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful. But he’s now finished in the top-ten in the last six US Opens and he’s averaging in those six US Opens – because I just looked here in strokes gained approach – about 30th. Guess what they do not do? Win US Opens.

“The guys who win US Opens finish first, second, third, fourth. Brooks Koepka in US Opens – first, second, most greens and best iron shots, strokes gained approach.

“Rory consistently underperforms in his iron play – and that is the most important statistic.”


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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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