McIlroy tries to put the devastating defeat at the US Open behind him | Sport

McIlroy tries to put the devastating defeat at the US Open behind him | Sport

NORTH BERWICK, Scotland (AP) — Rory McIlroy returned to his own little world a few days late.

Immediately after a U.S. Open blowout – missing two putts from three feet – he made a previously planned trip to Manhattan. McIlroy said he walked the High Line a few times, standing out in the crowds of America’s busiest city.

“A few days alone with my thoughts, that was good,” McIlroy said Wednesday at the Genesis Scottish Open, his first return since a devastating loss at Pinehurst No. 2. “It was tough, but at the same time it got easier with each passing day to focus on the positive and then think about the future instead of what just happened.”

What happened is hard to forget.

McIlroy missed a par putt from 30 inches on the 16th hole in the final round. And then he missed a downhill slider from just under 4 feet on the 18th hole, paving the way for Bryson DeChambeau to win another U.S. Open and extending McIlroy’s decade without a major victory.

He put it down to losing concentration over the last hour and becoming aware of what was happening around him, particularly with DeChambeau. Even as McIlroy stood over a difficult putt on the 18th hole, he wondered if DeChambeau could make par from the left rough behind him. McIlroy said he hit the putt too softly to prevent it from flying 10 feet past.

“So it took me out of my own little world a little bit,” McIlroy said.

He said he had learned his lesson and was now back to work. McIlroy is the defending champion at the Scottish Open, where last year he hit a 2-iron from 180 yards in heavy winds for a short birdie and to beat Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre.

And next week is the final major of the year, the British Open at Royal Troon. McIlroy said he sees it as nothing more than another opportunity to win his first major in 10 years, not a chance for redemption.

The US Open stung, even though he insists he has seen tougher times. He cried in a golf cart after missing a great opportunity at St Andrews when he couldn’t make a winning putt and Cameron Smith needed 64 strokes to win at the home of golf.

He also pointed to the 2011 Masters, when he lost a four-stroke lead with a final-round 80. That stings over time, because it’s the only major McIlroy hasn’t won yet.

“It was one of the worst defeats, but not the worst,” he said.

McIlroy said he had no regrets about his quick exit after DeChambeau’s remarkable 50-yard bunker shot set up a 4-foot par putt for the win on the 18th hole. McIlroy refused to speak to the media, heading straight to his car, tires spewing gravel as he left Pinehurst as quickly as he could.

“There’s nothing I could have said. It would have been good because you could have written something about it or had some quotes from me,” McIlroy said. “No offense. You were the least of my worries.”

McIlroy described the final round of the US Open as “a great day until it wasn’t.”

The oddest part was when he said the ball started to come loose – a 30-inch putt on the 16th hole. That was much more routine than the putt on the 18th hole, where he said he had to aim a few holes to the left because it broke so sharply and had the potential to speed past the hole.

“When you’re standing there, it’s hard not to think about the future or notice before Bryson’s ball is on the fairway or something like that,” he said. “But again, it’s on me to make sure I’m in the right frame of mind.”

McIlroy said it wasn’t a bad putt, but he missed at a bad time. It cost him a stroke’s lead and the final bogey – and DeChambeau’s great par save – decided the match.

There’s one part of the story McIlroy would like to revive – his ability to bounce back. Two months after blowing his big lead at the Masters in 2011, he won his first major at the U.S. Open.

He has two weeks in Scotland to try and put Pinehurst behind him, with far more attention in the second week at Royal Troon. In a month’s time he will be competing for the gold medal at the Olympics.

For McIlroy, the goal is to move on.

“When I look back on this day, like I look back on some of the toughest moments of my career, I’ll learn a lot from it and hopefully put it to good use,” he said. “It’s a pattern that’s been throughout my career. I’ve been able to take those tough moments and turn them into great things not long after.”

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