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Performance coach backs Rory McIlroy to bounce back from Pinehurst pain at Open

Rory McIlroy will hope to bounce back from his latest major anguish (Matt York/AP)
Rory McIlroy will hope to bounce back from his latest major anguish (Matt York/AP)

Rory McIlroy’s latest major heartbreak can fuel a strong Open challenge next month, according to a leading coach on the mental side of the game.

The Northern Irishman missed two short putts in the closing stages of the US Open at Pinehurst on Sunday to see a first major title in 10 years agonisingly slip away.

McIlory looked set to end his long wait when he moved two strokes clear with five holes to play but costly misses – from two-feet six inches and three-feet nine inches – on the 16th and 18th allowed Bryson DeChambeau to snatch victory.

Rory McIlroy punches the air after holing a birdie during his final round at the US Open
McIlroy had put himself in a superb position after a strong start to his final round at Pinehurst (Matt York/AP)

Six-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo has said that late collapse could “haunt” McIlroy for a long time but performance coach Jon Adler, of ‘Golf is a Mind Game’, believes positive results can come from it.

Adler told the PA news agency: “Obviously he was feeling distraught. It’s going to take a little bit of time to get over because it stings, and when you’ve had an experience of fear – being frightened of missing because it’s such a short putt, you’re supposed to be making it – it’s not nice, especially when it gets the better of you.

“But every golfer has had experiences like that and sometimes you can get a lot of strength from that.

“The fear is almost like a bully. Once you’ve been punched on the nose the next time you’re not quite as scared. You’re like, ‘Well, I’ve had the worst. I’ve dealt with the worst that can happen to me’.

“I heard Faldo saying he’s going to be wrecked forever from this but I’m not so sure. I certainly hope not.

“I remember when Rory crashed and burned at the Masters years ago, when he was young. He won the next major after that.

“From adversity often comes a new strength. It’s from the setbacks that often the great players emerge and I think Rory’s shown he’s got that in his locker, and he’s obviously got the talent and skill.

“It’s going to be a bitter pill for him to swallow for a while but he’s shown he can bounce back before. I’d have a little bet on him for the Open.”

McIlroy’s final chance to add a fifth major to his tally this year will come at Troon from July 18-21.

Adler said: “It’s all about being able to let go when you really need to and trust yourself and clear your mind, and see it as an opportunity as opposed to something you might regret.

“That little putt was an opportunity for Rory and unfortunately it got away.

“But I’m sure, if you take it in context, he’ll bounce back. I really do think he will.”