More major agony for McIlroy as DeChambeau claims US Open

Ronan MacNamara

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Two up with five to play never wins they say and Rory McIlroy’s wait for a fifth major championship title continues. But it shouldn’t have.

McIlroy snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in a gut wrenching climax as Bryson DeChambeau made the up and down of his life to claim a second US Open title after a rollercoaster final day at Pinehurst no.2.

On Sunday McIlroy held all the putts that would have seen him win at St Andrews and LA Country Club, until he missed the two he desperately needed and the wait for a fifth major title edges ever closer to exactly ten years.

It can be argued that the 2022 Open and 2023 US Open were taken away from him, but this will go down as one he handed to Bryson with three bogeys in his final four holes.

Having moved from one behind to two shots clear on eight-under-par after birdies on the ninth, 10th, 12th and 13th McIlroy began to wobble. A clutch up and down on 14 looked to be a momentum saver but a club selection error on the par-3 15th saw him go through the green and into the waste area.

The Holywood man could only bump out to 20-feet which cost him a dropped shot. He looked to have recovered when he found the middle of the 16th green and had putted to two and a half feet.

However, the pressure told and McIlroy, who was 496 out of 496 from putts inside three feet, missed his first putt from that length this season. There couldn’t have been a worse time.

McIlroy saved par from the left bunker on the par-3 17th but having taken three wood from the 18th tee in the previous three rounds, he opted to hit driver. Setting up for a fade he pulled it into the waste area and was unable to reach the green from a poor lie.

A good chip left him a three and a half foot putt for a closing par, but it agonisingly lipped out to see him fall out of the lead which he had only grabbed for the first time on his own on the 13th.

It was the most disappointing round of 69 for a five-under total that has been seen in many a year and McIlroy could only watch as DeChambeau made the up and down of a lifetime from the front right bunker on the 72nd hole.

“That was the best shot of my life,” said a beaming DeChambeau. “I knew that was huge to get up and down to win this championship which will be the highlight of my life.”

Despite playing the final four holes in one-over himself, he had enough to spare on six-under after a final round of 71.

Teeing off with a three shot lead, DeChambeau was not himself off the tee having cracked his driver head during his warm up. The American hit just five of fourteen fairways on Sunday in what was a shaky performance in its own right.

“Man, I felt like I was hitting the driver pretty well today. It just wasn’t starting exactly where I wanted it to. Ultimately on 13, I knew I had to make birdie there to give myself a chance because Rory was going on a heater, and he slipped up a couple on the way coming in, and I just kept staying the course, focused on trying to hit as many fairways as I could, even though I didn’t. I was not great today with that.

“But I got out of trouble really well, and then, man, I can’t believe that up-and-down on the last. That was overall probably the best shot of my life.”

In contrast it was McIlroy who came out swinging early in this heavyweight bout rolling in a lengthy birdie on the first. After an unfortunate bogey on the par-5 5th his head didn’t drop and some clutch par saves were broken with an excellent birdie, birdie stretch on 9 and 10 to join DeChambeau at the summit.

DeChambeau dropped his first shot of the day on the fourth hole and had to wait until the par-5 10th to record his first birdie. A bogey followed on the 12th while McIlroy went birdie, birdie on 12 and 13 to move two clear on -8 before Bryson slammed a three wood into the heart of the drivable par-4 13th to set up a two-putt birdie.

Just as it looked like the pendulum might have swung his way after McIlroy dropped a shot on 15 , he handed it back to McIlroy with a clumsy three putt bogey on 15 to fall behind once again.

As McIlroy faltered, DeChambeau held his nerve from the tee and despite passing up two great chances for birdie on 16 and 17, he was handed a lifeline by McIlroy and the winning par he made will live long in US Open folklore.

For McIlroy, it’s back to back runner-up finishes and his sixth successive top-10 finish at the US Open but this will hurt more than any of the near misses he’s had since 2014.

3598 days and counting…

Meanwhile, Shane Lowry carded a final round of 69 to secure a share of 19th place on four-over while Tom McKibbin stood shoulder to shoulder with world number one Scottie Scheffler and matched him with a 71 to share 41st place on plus eight.

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