Jon Rahm defends Rory McIlroy’s missed putt at 2024 U.S. Open: ‘They severely underplayed how difficult that putt was’

If anyone knows about difficult putts to win the U.S. Open, it’s Jon Rahm.

The Spaniard birdied the 17th and 18th holes to win by one shot at Torrey Pines in 2021, and the final putt was a hard breaker on the closing par-5 to claim his first major title. Since then, he has added a Masters win to his resume and remains one of the best golfers in the world.

Last week, however, Rahm’s view was a bit different. An injury forced him to withdraw, leaving him on the couch watching coverage of the third men’s major championship of the year.

“I thought it was quite a show from the comfort of my home,” Rahm said Wednesday in his pre-tournament press conference ahead of LIV Golf Nashville. “It’s a very enjoyable tournament to watch. I haven’t gotten the chance to enjoy a major from start to finish like that and to get to see a lot of golf was really fun, and to see how everything unfolded.”

2024 U.S. Open
2024 U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy reacts on the 18th green during the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Fellow LIV golfer Bryson DeChambeau won his second major title and second U.S. Open with a clutch up-and-down on the final hole. McIlroy, who led by two with five holes to play, made bogeys on three of his final four holes, including on the 18th. Many people have said McIlroy choked in his best chance to win a major since 2014.

Rahm doesn’t see it that way. Although he watched much of the broadcast on mute, Rahm said he thought the announcers undersold the degree of difficulty of McIlroy’s par putt on the final hole.

“One of the things that absolutely burned me, and I think it was Smylie (Kaufman) who said it, he severely underplayed how difficult Rory’s putt on 18 was,” Rahm said. “When he said it’s a left-center putt, if you hit that putt left-center and miss the hole, you’re off the green because of how much slope there is. You could see Rory aiming at least a cup left from three feet. They severely underplayed how difficult that putt was. Severely.”

Rahm went on to say unless you’ve been on the golf course and you’re playing it or you’ve played it, it’s hard to truly explain how difficult the golf course can be, especially when there are only seconds to get an explanation in.

Coverage takes and coming to the defense of his Ryder Cup teammate in one answer? Rahm is a jack of all trades.

As far as his injury ahead of LIV Golf’s ninth event of the season?

“The main reason for the withdrawal the two events was the infection I had and just to be precautionary towards not making it worse and seeing what steps I can take to prevent that from happening in the future,” he said. “The wound is still there. I’m not going to show any graphic pictures, but it’s still there. It’s manageable now. I’m not going to really make it worse. A lot of things to follow up from what happened to make sure it heals properly and it doesn’t happen again.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek