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Rory McIlroy's two missed short putts cost him a shot at winning the U.S. Open

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Rory McIlroy's two missed short putts cost him a shot at winning the U.S. Open
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Rory McIlroy's two missed short putts cost him a shot at winning the U.S. Open

2024-06-17 08:17 Last Updated At:08:20

PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) — Rory McIlroy put himself in position to end a decade-long drought in the majors, and answer a whole lot of questions about his ability to get it done, only to miss two short putts Sunday that left him peeling out of the parking lot in disappointment.

McIlroy signed for a 69 that left him 5 under for the championship, and had to watch on TV in the scoring room as Bryson DeChambeau finished behind him. The big-hitting DeChambeau did what McIlroy could not — got it done around the green — when he got up-and-down for par from 55 yards in a bunker short of the 18th green for a 71 and a one-shot victory.

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Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, waves after making a putt on the 10th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) — Rory McIlroy put himself in position to end a decade-long drought in the majors, and answer a whole lot of questions about his ability to get it done, only to miss two short putts Sunday that left him peeling out of the parking lot in disappointment.

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits from the fairway on the 10th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits from the fairway on the 10th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits from the fairway on the 10th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits from the fairway on the 10th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, celebrates after a birdie on the 12th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, celebrates after a birdie on the 12th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, watches his tee shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, watches his tee shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits his tee shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits his tee shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, reacts after missing a putt on the 15th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, reacts after missing a putt on the 15th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, reacts after missing a putt on the 18th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, reacts after missing a putt on the 18th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

“Rory is one of the best to ever play. Being able to fight against a great like that is pretty special,” DeChambeau said. “For him to miss that putt, I’d never wish it on anybody. It just happened to play out that way.”

McIlroy wasted no time making his escape. He climbed into an SUV in the players’ parking lot, his clubs loaded in the back, and briefly spun the tires in the gravel as he left without taking any questions from the media.

His silence spoke volumes about how crushing this loss must have felt.

“At the end of the day we are all human,” said Matthieu Pavon, who finished fifth. ”He is one of the best players in the world, a true champion. It shows you how tough it is. The more you want it, the tougher it gets, and the highest expectation you have for yourself, the tougher it gets, the more pressure you got into. Maybe this is a little bit of pressure that got him today for sure, but Rory is just a massive champion. I’m sure he will fight back and really soon.”

The first putt Sunday that McIlroy will rue until his next chance in a major — maybe the rest of his career, if he never wins that fifth one — came at the par-4 16th hole. He was clinging to a one-shot lead over DeChambeau, hit a towering iron to the middle of the green, then hit a nice lag putt to 30 inches — and missed, for his second consecutive bogey.

The second came about 30 minutes later, when McIlroy walked toward the 18th green tied for the lead. He had chopped to the front of the putting surface after getting a bad break off the tee, his ball hard up against some wire brush, and proceeded to hit a pitch up the slope toward the hole. But his par putt from 3 feet, 9 inches, slipped on by for one last bogey.

That shot that proved to be the difference.

The 35-year-old McIlroy was the runner-up at Los Angeles Country Club last year, too, and said afterward: “I would go through 100 Sundays like this to get my hands on another major championship.” He now has finished in the top 10 of the U.S. Open each of the past six years, including a tie for fifth two years ago at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.

McIlroy also was second at the Masters two years ago, and tied for second at the British Open in 2018. He lost a great chance at St. Andrews in the 2022 British Open. With each miss in the majors, the pressure grows on the Northern Irishman to end a drought dating to the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla.

He was in the hunt from the opening round at Pinehurst, shooting 5-under 65 on Thursday. He came back to the field a bit with a second-round 72, but rebounded with a 69 that put McIlroy with Patrick Cantlay in the penultimate group on Sunday.

The two had feuded during the Ryder Cup last year in Italy, but there was no lingering animosity. In fact, the two wished each other luck on the first tee, then got down to the business of trying to win one of the toughest tests in golf.

McIlroy was up to the challenge off the tee all week. He tied for third in fairways in regulation, missing the penal native areas as well as anyone until the 18th on Sunday, and he finished second only to DeChambeau in driving distance.

Yet it was on the slippery, turtle-backed, downright diabolical Donald Ross-designed greens that his U.S. Open was lost.

McIlroy played the first 69 holes of the championship without missing a putt inside 4 feet; he proceeded to miss two in his last three holes. The first of them was the first time he had missed a putt under 3 feet all season, and the second short miss left McIlroy to watch DeChambeau raise the trophy that he won himself 13 years ago.

“He’ll win multiple more major championships. There’s no doubt,” DeChambeau said. “That fire in him is going to continue to grow. I have nothing but respect for how he plays the game of golf because, to be honest, when he was climbing up the leaderboard, he was two ahead, I was like, ‘Uh-oh, uh-oh.’ But luckily things went my way today.”

AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, waves after making a putt on the 10th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, waves after making a putt on the 10th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits from the fairway on the 10th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits from the fairway on the 10th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits from the fairway on the 10th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits from the fairway on the 10th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, celebrates after a birdie on the 12th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, celebrates after a birdie on the 12th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, watches his tee shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, watches his tee shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits his tee shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits his tee shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, reacts after missing a putt on the 15th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, reacts after missing a putt on the 15th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, reacts after missing a putt on the 18th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, reacts after missing a putt on the 18th hole during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 16, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)

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Brian Harman starts his British Open title defense by returning the claret jug

2024-07-16 02:18 Last Updated At:02:21

TROON, Scotland (AP) — Of all the recent traditions in the Royal & Ancient game, what Brian Harman took part in on Monday afternoon might be the least enjoyable.

Returning the claret jug.

The formal handover of the British Open trophy required a little pomp. Harman was in the back seat of an SUV. The destination was not much longer than the 40-foot birdie putt he made last year on the 14th hole on his way to winning the Open. But he had to wait for the film crew to be set, for the traffic on the road to clear.

“It's all yours,” Harman told Martin Slumbers, the R&A CEO who took back golf's oldest trophy that apparently has seen its share of the finest wine and bourbon in the year since Harman won at Royal Liverpool.

Harman is a straight shooter — with a rifle, with his mouth and last year with his putter — but a staged moment as this didn't bother him.

“In my opinion, it's the coolest trophy in all of sports,” Harman said. “So I think it's deserving of all of the pageantry that's involved with it."

Getting it back by the end of the week is the real challenge.

The homecoming of the claret jug was an unofficial way to launch the start of the final men's major of the year. The 152nd Open Championship begins Thursday on the Scottish links along the Firth of Clyde on the Irish Sea.

Royal Troon is renowned for its pot bunkers that are so deep they effectively serve as a one-shot penalty when tee shots find them on the longer holes. The outward holes are shorter with the prevailing wind, the inward holes are longer and into the wind.

“You have to take them on,” Scottie Scheffler said.

Harman had gone six years without a win until putting together a masterpiece last year to lead over the final 51 holes and win by six. He hasn't won since then, a matter of getting his putter to cooperate. He hopes that's the case this week.

“You can work and work and work. You just never know when that work is going to pay off,” Harman said. “You never know when the peak is coming. You never know when you’re going to catch a little bit of momentum. So you just have to hope it’s a big week.”

No one has won back to back in the British Open since Padraig Harrington in 2007 (Carnoustie) and 2008 (Royal Birkdale). Go back to 1960 and the list of repeat winners includes only Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino and Arnold Palmer.

“A little sad to give it back, but I’ll remember everywhere it’s been forever,” Harman said. “I’m happy to give it back, happy to be here. Ready to get going.”

Royal Troon is green and lush, and the rough is particularly thick at the base of turf. This isn't likely to be a bright and sunny week along the Ayrshire coast, and the links have been busy.

Woods arrived Sunday and went 18 holes, spending much of his time chipping and putting. His son Charlie is not with him, instead at home preparing for the U.S. Junior Amateur next week outside Detroit.

Scheffler got into the competitive spirit, playing alongside Sam Burns as they took some cash from PGA champion Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay.

After handing off the jug, Harman headed out to see Royal Troon for the first time. Monday was largely a day of reflection and he was eager to move forward.

But it was a good year, even without another win. He took the jug to Georgia Bulldogs football and Atlanta Braves baseball games. He took it everywhere he could, a reminder of reaching the pinnacle of his sport.

“You never know how it’s going to go, but just the reception from everyone back home was overwhelming, just how excited everyone was,” he said. “I was obviously very excited, but to be able to share that excitement with people that I care about was probably the best.”

Harman was among several players who came across the coast from the Scottish Open last week, a list that included Robert MacIntyre, though his immediately whereabouts could not be confirmed. MacIntyre won the Scottish with an eagle-par-birdie finish and promised he would “celebrate hard” as the first Scot to win his national open in 25 years.

He was scheduled for a press conference Monday afternoon. It was rescheduled for Wednesday afternoon. That was a big win for him. Next up is one even bigger.

AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

Justin Thomas of the United States plays out of a bunker on the 5th hole during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Justin Thomas of the United States plays out of a bunker on the 5th hole during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Scottie Scheffler of the United States plays of of a bunker on the 14th hole during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Scottie Scheffler of the United States plays of of a bunker on the 14th hole during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Xander Schauffele of the United States tees off from the16th hole during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Xander Schauffele of the United States tees off from the16th hole during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Tiger Woods, center, watches US golfer Justin Thomas, right, during a practice round ahead of The Open at Royal Troon, South Ayrshire, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (Steve Welsh/PA via AP)

Tiger Woods, center, watches US golfer Justin Thomas, right, during a practice round ahead of The Open at Royal Troon, South Ayrshire, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (Steve Welsh/PA via AP)

Tiger Woods of the United States puts on the 10th green during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Tiger Woods of the United States puts on the 10th green during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Tiger Woods of the United States chips onto the 6th green during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Tiger Woods of the United States chips onto the 6th green during a practice round for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

The 18th green at the British Open Golf Championship at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Sunday, July 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

The 18th green at the British Open Golf Championship at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Sunday, July 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

The 2023 Open Champion Brian Harman of the United States speaks during a press conference at the media tent for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

The 2023 Open Champion Brian Harman of the United States speaks during a press conference at the media tent for the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon golf club in Troon, Scotland, Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

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