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Rory McIlroy takes time out after ‘the toughest’ day of career at US Open

Rory McIlroy described his US Open defeat as the toughest day of his career (Matt York/AP)
Rory McIlroy described his US Open defeat as the toughest day of his career (Matt York/AP)

Rory McIlroy will “take a few weeks away” from golf after enduring what he described as the toughest day of his career in the final round of the US Open at Pinehurst on Sunday.

McIlroy stormed off the course without fulfilling media duties after blowing a two-shot lead with five to play and handing victory to Bryson DeChambeau.

The Northern Irishman, who was clearly disconsolate after extending his 10-year wait for an elusive fifth major, has withdrawn from this week’s Travelers Championship in Connecticut.

McIlroy wrote: “Yesterday was a tough day, probably the toughest I’ve had in my nearly 17 years as a professional golfer.

“Firstly, I’d like to congratulate Bryson. He is a worthy champion and exactly what professional golf needs right now. I think we can all agree on that.

“As I reflect on my week, I’ll rue a few things over the course of the tournament, mostly the two 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.

“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 defence of the Genesis Scottish Open and The Open at Royal Troon. See you in Scotland.”

McIlroy was in mid-air on his plane home within an hour of signing his card at the end of his gut-wrenching round, and how long it takes him to get over the disappointment remains to be seen.

In 20 previous top-10 finishes in major championships since his last victory in the 2014 US PGA, McIlroy has never had the title within his grasp with just a handful of holes to play in the manner that he did on Sunday.

McIlroy is the first player to finish in the top 10 at six consecutive US Opens since Jack Nicklaus from 1977-82 and the first to do so without winning any of them since Jack Hobens from 1905-10.

“Nobody’s had more pressure on him over the last 10 years,” McIlroy’s putting coach Brad Faxon said on Golf Channel.

“Everybody in the world knows he hasn’t won a major since 2014.

“I think it’s the way this happened; the short missed putts there on 16, certainly on 18. I don’t know how you get through this thing. It’s really tough.”

A dejected Rory McIlroy reacts on the 18th green
Rory McIlroy hit a bogey on the 72nd hole of the US Open (USGA/Jeff Haynes)

Former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley added: “That element of doubt came in.

“He started backing away, which he never does. He took a little more time over the putts, which he never does. That’s pressure and he succumbed to it.

“(It’s) a devastating loss for any player, not just Rory. It’s absolutely devastating. Rory has faltered coming down the stretch.”