Rory McIlroy takes aim at criticism of caddie Harry Diamond after US Open choke, press conference

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Rory McIlroy is convinced he can bounce back quickly from his painful collapse in the US Open at Pinehurst.

The four-time major winner briefly held a two-shot lead with five holes to play but bogeyed three of the last four holes — missing two short par-putts — to finish a shot behind Bryson DeChambeau.

It was the 35-year-old’s best chance to win his first major since 2014 and brought back memories of squandering a four-shot lead in the final round of the 2011 Masters with a closing 80.

The Northern Irishman, who defends his Scottish Open title this week, recovered quickly to win his first major in the US Open two months later in 2011 and will hope he can repeat the trick in next week’s British Open at Royal Troon.

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Rory’s reaction to Bryson’s winning putt | 02:00

“I look back on that day (at Pinehurst) just like I look back on some of the toughest moments in my career and I’ll learn a lot from it and hopefully put that to good use,” McIlroy said on Wednesday.

“It’s something that’s been a bit of a theme throughout my career. I’ve been able to take those tough moments and turn them into great things not very long after that.

“It’s been a while since I’ve won a major but I felt worse after some other losses. I felt worse after Augusta in 2011 and I felt worse after St Andrews (2022 British Open). It was up there with the tough losses but not the toughest.

“The way I’d describe Pinehurst on Sunday was it was a great day until it wasn’t.”

‘Gutted’ Rory leaves right after loss | 00:53

McIlroy also took the opportunity to defend his caddie, Harry Diamond, who came under scrutiny for his role in the collapse after the Irishman bogeyed on three of his last four holes.

“You know, it’s certainly unfair. Hank Haney has never been in that position,” ­McIlroy said, referencing criticism from by Tiger Woods’ former coach before also addressing comments made by former PGA Tour player turned television analyst Smylie Kaufman.

“Smylie has been in that position once. I love Smylie and he was out there with us on 18. But just because Harry is not as vocal or loud with his words as other ­caddies, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t say anything and that he doesn’t do anything.

“These guys that criticise when things don’t go my way, they never say anything good when things do go my way. So where were they when I won Dubai earlier this year or Quail Hollow or the two FedEx Cups that I’ve won with Harry or the two Ryder Cups or whatever? They are never there to say Harry did such a great job when I win but they are always there to criticise when we don’t win.

“They are not there. They are not the ones hitting the shots and ­making the decisions. Someone said to me once: ‘If you would never take advice from these people, you should never take their criticisms either.’ I certainly wouldn’t go to Hank Haney for advice. I love Smylie, but I think I know what I’m doing and so does Harry.”

DeChambeau snatches second US Open title | 03:26

The world number two, who has not played a competitive round since his US Open heartbreak, said he had “stewed” on what happened for a few days, and reflected on the now-infamous two short putts he missed that saw him lose.

“It was a great opportunity. It passed me by but hopefully when I get that next opportunity, it won’t pass me by,” he said.

“I can vividly remember starting to feel a little uncomfortable waiting for my second putt on 16, and you know, the putt on the last, it was a really tricky putt. And I was very aware of where Bryson was off the tee. I knew I had to hit it really soft. If the one back didn’t matter, I would have hit it firmer.

“But because I was sort of in two minds, I didn’t know whether Bryson [Dechambeau] was going to make a par or not, it was one of those ones where I had to make sure that if the putt didn’t go in, that it wasn’t going 10 feet by, which it very easily could have.

“Thinking back, yeah, maybe I was a little too aware of where Bryson was and what he was doing … Just the way the course flowed, it just made me very aware of what he was doing at the same time. So it sort of got me out of my own little world a little bit.

“But no, I mean, when I look back on that day, just like I look back on some of my toughest moments in my career, I’ll learn a lot from it and I’ll hopefully put that to good use. It’s something that’s been a bit of a theme throughout my career. I’ve been able to take those tough moments and turn them into great things not very long after that.

“I’m playing great golf and it’s another opportunity to see how I can hopefully handle it better than I handled it a few weeks ago.”

Other star names who will be teeing off at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick include PGA Championship winner Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa and Ludvig Aberg.

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