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What comes next for Rory McIlroy after 2024 U.S. Open heartbreak?

While fellow players believe it’s not the end, it’s only natural to wonder how the former World No. 1 will recover from his latest disappointment.

While fellow players believe it’s not the end, it’s only natural to wonder how the former World No. 1 will recover from his latest disappointment.

The Northern Irishman’s disappointment was blatant after he finished second on Sunday. Indeed, the way in which he left the course at Pinehurst has many questioning what comes next for arguably one of golf’s greatest players albeit one who hasn’t won a major in quite some time.

Rory McIlroy was close but there was no cigar

On Sunday, the 2024 U.S. Open came to a close with a clutch par putt by Bryson Dechambeau who then proceeded to throw his golf ball into the throng of fans at 18th-hole. For Rory McIlroy, however, the sensation was very different. Having fallen short of the mark by a single shot after missing two short puts in the last few holes, the Northern Irishman continued what is now a 10-year journey without a win at a major championship. With that, the 35-year-old quickly and silently made his way to his Lexus courtesy car, packed the vehicle with his golf bags, and departed. There was no post-tournament press conference or even a word of acknowledgment to anyone.

“I’ve never seen a player that close to the top leave so quickly without talking to anybody,” said one USGA media official. “At least take 10 minutes and compose yourself.” There was none of that from McIlroy and truthfully when one considers the near miss for par on the 18th, one can empathize. What’s worse is that it came on the back of a succession of promising moments. There was a birdie on the par-4 13th hole which gave him a brief two-shot lead to the sound of chants of “Rory, Rory” as he headed to the 14th tee box but unfortunately, that would be his last. There was a moment of reprieve when DeChambeau missed a 3-footer on the par-3 15th hole but not even that could help as McIlroy missed a putt of 3 feet, 8 inches himself on 16th.

What’s going on with Rory McIlroy

It’s a good question and it’s likely that only he will be able to answer, but it’s worth noting that McIlroy came into the final round on Sunday with a record of 496-for-496 on putts of 3 feet or less, a statistic that’s probably burning in his consciousness now. With that, the four-time Major winner now has two consecutive second-place finishes at the U.S. Open, as well as top-five finishes in all other majors. It was a tough loss for McIlroy and one that was noted by his opponents, including fellow Europeans such as Frenchman, Matthieu Pavon.

“We know that Rory has been chasing a major for many years and when you want something so bad, it’s often tougher to get,” said Pavon, who finished solo fifth. “The more we want something, the harder it is to get and maybe he felt a little bit of pressure which got him.” There was also Englishman Aaron Rai who sympathized with McIlroy’s frustration. “It’s a tough game we play and it doesn’t matter how high you are like Rory, it’s natural to feel pressure on the final day when it all comes down to the back nine. That is the test of the game we play and Rory will come out the better for this. He always has before.”

Where context is concerned, it should be stated that McIlroy at 35 years old is still physically in his prime as evidenced by the clutch of wins that he’s had this year. This is to say that it would be silly to think that this will be his last shot at a major. With the British Open just a month away we can expect to see him going at it again. Of course, golf fans will know that it’s really The Masters that’s on McIlroy’s list as it’s the only major he hasn’t won but to hear his fellow golfers tell it, this latest setback is only a blip on the radar. “Is he finished? Are you kidding me? He’s got lot of more chances. He’s a generational world-class golfer,” said Tony Finau who tied for third. “Rory is going to get it done and be able to quiet all the noise.” To be clear, McIlroy has officially withdrawn from this week’s Travelers Championship in Hartford as he looks to recover from the painful loss at Pinehurst. Needless to say, he will have to do so in quick fashion with the Genesis Scottish Open beginning on July 11, and the final major championship of the season, the Open Championship, on July 18 at Royal Troon.

See also: Why does Team USA have four players in men’s golf at the 2024 Olympics in Paris?