Rory McIlroy nearly ruined his US Open – until his caddy saved him


For Rory McIlroy, Harry Diamond is both friend * and * cadet.

Getty Images

BROOKLINE, Mass. “Why don’t you play here?” »

Those are the words of caddy Harry Diamond, said lightly and politely to Rory McIlroy.

Technically, it was a question, but with a subtext of disapproval. The kind that invokes a sense of guilt. The kind only possible from one of your closet friends. Someone who really knows you and cares about you.

That was all Rory needed to hear. He put down the long iron he was holding on his golf bag, turned his gaze to the side, and started walking to the edge of the fairway.

“Shouldn’t you do that?” a fan, holding a rapidly draining beer, asked Harry. Harry stayed put and placed the two clubs Rory had left in his golf bag – a 4 iron and a 5 wood.

“72 yards,” McIlroy said on his return.

Rory McIlroy had to bail out of trouble at the 2022 US Open.

Getty Images

A wedge came out and the ball went – diagonally back in the middle of the fairway. Moments later, Rory’s ball was 13 feet from the pin and then into the hole for a potentially tournament-defining par.

Rory McIlroy has a bad habit. One that keeps popping up, like bad habits tend to do. It stems from good intentions, but it’s the main reason Rory has gone winless in his last 29 major starts.

It’s not that Rory makes mistakes, it’s that he will never make one in a row. He will try to recover from a bad blow with a heroic blow. When it doesn’t work, it means one error becomes two. That’s enough to make one bad hole, then two. It’s enough to pull the thread of the round, until everything is undone.

On Saturday at the Country Club, Rory was pulling the thread again.

A wild turkey got into the action at the Country Club on Saturday.

Getty Images

From the middle of the fairway on the 12th hole, Rory left his short iron short in the rough at the front of the green.

It was a tough shot – the wind had blown – but no excuse for whoever followed. A very cute chip, which came rolling back to its feet. Another too-cute but slightly better chip followed, and he spent the next few minutes lining up his five-footer with his head in his hands.

He started his drive to the left on his next hole. Now was the time when his whole tournament was going to fall apart.

While Harry was busy dealing with the chaos of the crowd around his ball, Rory initially hit a 5 wood to weave through the trees. When Harry returned, Rory had decided on a different plan.

“I was ready to hit a 4 iron on my front foot and hit it over those trees,” he said.

The move Rory was considering was incredibly difficult. The low road was a high gap of about three meters, if that. The high route required lifting his 4 iron from a rough lie, above trees and water onto a green at 206 yards

“He said to me, ‘Look, you could make it, but you could also do a 7 or an 8 doing it,'” Rory said after his third round, a 73, which left him three behind the lead before to enter. Sunday. “’He said to me, listen, why don’t you play here? Do not even think about it.

Rory decided to listen – “For once,” he joked. The sequence of events resulted in Rory saving par, which, according to the USGA’s Win Odds Chart, increased his odds of winning from 8.6 to 11.3 percent.

Cut your losses and move on

There’s no question what the stats say is the best shot, from golfers competing in the US Open this week, to those playing at your local municipal course down the road.

According to famous statistician Mark Broadie’s book, Every shot counts, from 100 yards into the trees, tour players average 3.8 strokes to complete the rest of the hole (4.8 if you count their previously hit drive). That’s almost exactly one shot higher than it would be if a drive of the same distance had landed in the fairway.

A hero move gone wrong leaves you roughly where you started, but adds a whole hit to your score along the way.

In other words, the risk is not worth the reward. That’s why statistician Scott Fawcett, founder of the course management app DECADE based on Broadie’s ideas, adopts a simple strategy: get your ball back to safety, without incident. Cut your losses and move on.

“Recovery shots from trees are the easiest place on tour to earn split shots without too much risk,” says Fawcett. “However, the allure of hitting a hero and earning more is very appealing.”

The lure was certainly enticing for Rory on Sunday afternoon, but this time Harry did as he pleased. He helped Rory stave off those instincts, and if Rory lifts the trophy on Sunday, it will be because his decision on the 13th hole kept him in the fight.

“That’s the benefit of having a good caddy,” Rory said.

And, most importantly, a friend. The kind that watches over you, wherever your journeys end.

Luke Kerr-Dineen


Luke Kerr-Dineen is Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and In his role, he oversees the brand’s game improvement content covering instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s media platforms.

Alumnus of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina-Beaufort golf team, where he helped them rise to No. 1 in the NAIA National Rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue her Masters in Journalism at Columbia University. . His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek, and The Daily Beast.


About Author

Comments are closed.