Sign up for our daily newsletter

Latest news, reviews, analysis and opinion, plus unmissable deals for bunkered subscriptions, events, and our commercial partners.

I really don’t like using the ‘c’ word. It’s crass. It makes people recoil when you say it. And it’s almost always unnecessary.

But there’s no two ways about it. That was a choke.

Stay with me.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. Or anything that Rory McIlroy doesn’t already know, for that matter.

It will go down as a tale of two missed putts for McIlroy, who had made 496 out of 496 inside three feet this season before he was presented with a two-foot-six tap-in at the par-four 16th. What happened next was unfathomable. Inexplicable. Baffling. Incomprehensible.

At the finishing hole it was a touch longer, and it had a bit of left-to-right to think about. He didn’t commit to the shot with even the remotest bit of confidence and, while he still had a lot to do, Bryson DeChambeau’s job of getting his hands on a second US Open was made a whole lot easier by his rival in the group ahead.

But the seeds were sewn before each of those putts.

McIlroy, who had played the 207-yard par-three 15th in two-over-par over the first three days, pulled seven-iron from the bag and proceeded to fly the green and leave himself in a position where bogey was the best result he could hope for. Even standing over the ball, Sky Sports analyst Wayne Riley said McIlroy will be hitting “an easy eight-iron” before his voice switched to concerned as he realised it was one more.

And then there was the decision to take driver up the last. Why are you doing that? I don’t think you or I would hit driver up there. When every voice in the commentary box is questioning it, you know you’ve done something wrong. An easy wood up the middle of the fairway to leave a short iron in is absolutely fine, Rory.

McIlroy was leading by two with five to play. His rival played those last five in one-over-par and still won the tournament. That is unacceptable. Please don’t make me use the ‘c’ word again.

Rory McIlroy and Harry Diamond
Rory McIlroy is the first player to ever finish as a solo runner-up in back-to-back US Opens. (Credit: Getty Images)

And perhaps Harry Diamond should come in for some criticism here. He gets a lot of unwarranted abuse from people who say silly things like he’s “not a proper caddie”, and I’ll defend him until my last breath on that front, but you have to think a more assertive bagman would have put the brakes on both of those decisions.

Because, while the missed putts were unforgivable, the cold, hard truth of the matter is that if McIlroy had hit eight-iron at 16 and found the fairway at 18, he is a five-time major champion.

How will he react? Ask me again after The Open, but it’s difficult to see how you get over yet another setback on such a grand scale. But he’s come back from far worse than this, remember. Though time is rapidly turning on him. If he had won on Sunday, I’d have backed him to get to ten. Now I’m not confident he’ll ever get to five.

Apparently he’s down to play this week’s Travelers. Will he turn up? Let’s hope so. Mainly because, due to his post-round antics at Pinehurst, we want answers…

• Rory McIlroy breaks silence after US Open disappearing act

• Rory McIlroy blasted for ‘chickens**t’ move at US Open

Deadly DeChambeau

But let’s also not take away from the fact Bryson DeChambeau had to do something quite remarkable to get his hands on that famous trophy for a second time.

With it he becomes the fourth player to win the US Amateur and multiple US Open titles. The other three? Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods. That is some golf Mount Rushmore, eh?

The victory also moves him back into the world’s top ten for the first time in two and a half years.

Bryson DeChambe
Bryson DeChambeau is a man of the people now. (Credit: Getty Images)

But it didn’t always look like he would get there. He also hit driver at 18 and found the thick stuff, before dunking his escape in the sand. And the statisticians tell us he had a 1.7 per cent chance of getting that bunker shot within four feet. Something of a numbers man himself, DeChambeau later said he would get that shot to gimme range “four or five times out of 100”.

While it’s hard to shake the fact he quit the PGA Tour to chase the PIF billions, DeChambeau has really turned a corner in the popularity stakes. He seems to just “get it” now. Whether it was the clip of him signing an autograph for the fan in a wheelchair, or running over to the waiting galleries to let them have a touch of the trophy, DeChambeau now conducts himself in a manner of humility and sociability we haven’t previously seen in him.

It seems like he’s finally worked out how to handle being famous. And it’s great to see.

Ray gun

Stats doyen Justin Ray is one of my favourite follows on X. Mainly for stuff like this…

I love how his brain works.

Wagner style

Johnson Wagner has only played a handful of PGA Tour events in the last couple of years – and doesn’t have much money to show for it – but he is quickly reinventing himself as one of Golf Channel’s more engaging analysts.

The 44-year-old three-time PGA Tour winner has been entertaining viewers this year with his recreations of shots we had seen in that day’s play.

It hasn’t all gone to plan. Wagner got the chipping yips at the PGA Championship – which is brutal at any time let alone when you’re doing it live in front of millions of people – and we were all watching through our fingers as he prepared to take on Bryson DeChambeau’s miraculous US Open-winning bunker shot.

And without wishing to sound too clickbaity, you WILL NOT BELIEVE what happened.

If you’ve got four minutes and five seconds spare today, make sure you spend it here:

And finally…

As always I like to finish with some work from my colleagues I have enjoyed in the past few days.

Ben Parsons and John Turnbull were pumping out the content at a rate of knots over the weekend, so be sure to check out their stuff before we start thinking about Troon. I particularly enjoyed Ben’s brain dump from Pinehurst, while John questions whether or not we’ll see Tiger Woods again at a US Open.

I also had the chance to go to this year’s Open venue last week where I sat down with Colin Montgomerie for 15 minutes. You’ll be hearing a lot more from him in the coming days, but for now here’s something he said about Ludvig Aberg.

Speaking of Troon, the latest issue of bunkered is on the shelves now – and this month you’re getting three magazines for the price of one! What more can you ask for?

See you next week.


author headshot

Alex Perry is the Associate Editor of bunkered. A journalist for more than 20 years, he has been a golf industry stalwart for the majority of his career and, in a five-year spell at ESPN, covered every sporting event you can think of. He completed his own Grand Slam at the 2023 Masters, having fallen in love with the sport at his hometown club of Okehampton and on the links of nearby Bude & North Cornwall.

Associate Editor

More Reads

Image Turnberry green

The bunkered Golf Course Guide - Scotland

Now, with bunkered, you can discover the golf courses Scotland has to offer. Trust us, you will not be disappointed.

Find Courses