Jon Rahm, Shane Lowry leap to defence of Rory McIlroy after U.S. Open heartbreak

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They might be fierce competitors on the golf course, but golfers know when to pick each other up when needed.

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After Rory McIlroy’s heartbreaking defeat at the U.S. Open on Sunday, his fellow golfers are doing just that.

Both Jon Rahm and Shane Lowry have leapt to the defence of the beleaguered Northern Irishman, who collapsed down the stretch in the final round at Pinehurst No. 2, stunningly missing two short putts and bogeying three of his last four holes.

McIlroy’s misses allowed Bryson DeChambeau to clinch his second career U.S. Open. McIlroy could only watch on TV from the clubhouse as the American sink a par putt on the 18th for the win.

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Rahm, who was forced to miss the tournament with a painful toe injury, felt that McIlroy was given short shrift by NBC’s golf announcers.

The Spaniard told Sports Illustrated he felt that the commentators “severely underplayed” the difficulty of the putt on 18, making it out to be much simpler than it appeared.

“One of the things that absolutely burned me, and I think it was (NBC’s) Smylie (Kaufman) who said it, he severely underplayed how difficult Rory’s putt on 18 was,” Rahm said.

“When he said it’s a left-centre putt, if you hit that putt left-centre and miss the hole, you’re off the green because of how much slope there is. You could see Rory aiming at least a cup left from three feet. They severely underplayed how difficult that putt was. Severely.”

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The former world No. 1 did cut the announcers some slack, though.

“I think that can happen a few times where, unless you’ve been there on the golf course and you’re playing it or you’ve played it, it’s hard to truly explain how difficult the golf course can be, and a lot of times they only have those five seconds to say something quickly, so I also don’t blame them,” the LIV Golf star said.

Irish golfer Lowry also felt the criticisms of McIlroy, whose drought at major tournaments is nearing 10 years, were harsh – especially from those on social media. 

In a post of his own earlier this week, Lowry preached for some understanding from fans. 

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“From the outside looking in… this game is easy. But in reality it’s the worst game of all,” Lowry posted on X along with a picture of himself and McIlroy having a laugh on a golf course. 

“We are very fortunate to get what we do from this game but over the last 24 hours it’s hit me. We do it for not only ourselves but for our family, friends and fans. 

“What Rory has gone through is as tough as it gets in our game but I would like to encourage people if anything please be kind.”  

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While McIlroy originally was slated to compete in this week’s Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands, he released a statement earlier this week that he was withdrawing from the tournament.

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“As I reflect on my week, I’ll rue a few things over the course of the tournament, mostly the 2 missed putts on 16 and 18 on the final day. But, as I always try to do, I’ll look at the positives of the week that far outweigh the negatives,” McIlroy wrote.

“As I said at the start of the tournament, I feel closer to winning my next major championship than I ever have. The one word that I would describe my career as is resilient. I’ve shown my resilience over and over again in the last 17 years and I will again. I’m going to take a few weeks away from the game to process everything and build myself back up for my defense of the Genesis Scottish Open and The Open at Royal Troon.

“See you in Scotland.”

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