'Going To Haunt Him For The Rest Of His Life’ - Rory McIlroy’s Major Drought Continues After US Open Agony

The Northern Irishman was beaten by Bryson DeChambeau in a thrilling final-day battle at Pinehurst

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts after finishing the 18th hole during the final round of the 124th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort on June 16, 2024.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy will have to wait until at least July 21 to get his next crack at lifting Major No. 5 after losing the US Open in agonising fashion to Bryson DeChambeau at Pinehurst.

He might wish The Open at Royal Troon was starting tomorrow, though, so he could set about banishing the demons of another heartbreaking near miss. The Northern Irishman has been close in the game’s biggest events since he won the 2014 PGA Championship but it’s unlikely any will sting with quite so much venom.

He had a gilt-edged chance to clinch the 150th Open at St Andrews, another at last year’s US Open, but on both those occasions he at least had the consolation that someone else came out and won them.

He could have done more, perhaps been more aggressive, holed a couple more putts, but the play of Cameron Smith and Wyndham Clark on those respective Sundays couldn’t be argued with.

In stark contrast, on this Sunday, McIlroy blew it. He hadn't missed a putt inside three feet all season until he lipped out from 2ft 6in on the 16th and his misery was compounded by another short miss on 18.

Preceding that, he bogeyed the 15th, leaving him picking up the pieces of three dropped shots in his final four. All he could do was watch as DeChambeau did what he could not and mopped up a tiddler for a second US Open.

Agony was written on his face; heaven knows how he was feeling inside.

It’s been said many times but this felt like it, the end of a decade-long pursuit to bag a long overdue fifth Major.

He began three shots adrift but did what he has failed to do on so many of these occasions and holed some putts to seize some early momentum.

A 20-footer on the first got him immediately within two. A horror break on the 5th cost him a bogey but he bounced back admirably.

Birdies from 14 feet, 26 feet, 22 feet and 5 feet in the space of five holes vaulted him to eight-under and into a two-shot lead with five to go.

And while McIlroy was imposing his will on Pinehurst No. 2, DeChambeau was falling into so many of Donald Ross’ traps.

The American cut an agitated figure almost from the first tee shot as he wrestled with a misfiring driver. To his credit, though, he hung in, and that is often the assignment at a US Open.

He missed from close range on 15 to cancel out a birdie on the driveable par-4 13th but closed with pars on 16, 17 and then a miraculous bunker save on 18 to complete his redemption story.

From suing the PGA Tour to fan favourite and now a two-time Major winner within a couple of years, there is no denying DeChambeau is box office.

As is McIlroy. The two have contrasting personalities but are united by their star quality. It’s what made their battle for victory so compelling.

But, as is always the case, there has to be a loser, and once again it was McIlroy who assumed that role.

The 35-year-old will be back, of course, but this will be a tough one to digest. Nick Faldo summed it up perfectly in commentary as it was happening when he said: “Either Bryson lets him off the hook or that's going to haunt him for the rest of his life.”

It seems unfathomable to think McIlroy won't eventually get over the line when it matters most, but is it as unfathomable as the fact he has been stuck on four since August 2014?

Many greats of the game saw their well run dry far earlier than expected. It might be time to accept the very real possibility that McIlroy could have already won his last Major.

Andrew Wright
Freelance News Writer

A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he decided to go freelance and now covers a variety of topics for Golf Monthly. 

Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.

As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.

What's in Andy's bag?

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)

Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)

Irons: Mizuno mp32 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)

Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x