Why Rory McIlroy will bounce back at Genesis Scottish Open

After a disappointing end to the U.S. Open, Rory McIlroy looks to bounce back at the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club. McIlroy is the defending champion and hopes to lock in his game before The Open.
Rory McIlroy - 2024 U.S. Open
Rory McIlroy - 2024 U.S. Open / Andrew Redington/GettyImages

Golf is a mental game. Professional or not, all players must fight their demons multiple times during a round. Hitting a driver out of bounds could lead to a player overthinking the next one and overcorrecting. Likewise, missing a short putt may linger in a player’s mind for the rest of the round and beyond.

The latter may be the case for Rory McIlroy this week at The Renaissance Club, whose missed short putts down the stretch at Pinehurst No.2 cost him the U.S. Open and a fifth major championship.

Leading by a stroke over Bryson DeChambeau with three holes to play, McIlroy hit the green in regulation on 16. The Northern Irish golfer lagged his putt to what recreational golfers might call a “gimme”: just under 3 feet. McIlroy missed and made bogey, something that has likely been detrimental to recreational golfers everywhere. McIlroy and DeChambeau were tied.

On the 18th, McIlroy chipped his third from off the green to under 4 feet. Despite the short distance, the downhill par putt was deceptively challenging. McIlroy’s putt broke hard and lipped out. Bogey.

McIlroy could do nothing but watch from the scorer's room as DeChambeau hit an incredible bunker shot for a tap-in par to win the tournament. As soon as the putt dropped in the hole, a visibly dejected McIlroy hastily left the venue.

The day after the tournament ended, Rory McIlroy tweeted:

Despite the three-week break and mental reset, don’t be surprised if McIlroy makes a run at the Genesis Scottish Open. In a field that contains Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele, McIlroy, the defending champion, is the betting favorite.

Last year, at this same course, McIlroy defeated Robert MacIntyre by a stroke and Scottie Scheffler by five. He birdied the last two holes to win, the latter of which has become immortalized. The Renaissance Club recently unveiled a plaque on the 18th hole honoring McIlroy’s 202-yard approach shot into heavy winds with a 2-iron. The incredible shot set up the winning birdie putt from just over 10 feet.

McIlroy has more than just nostalgia to give him confidence. He’s having a productive year overall. McIlroy hasn’t finished outside of the top 15 in his last six starts, which include one runner-up, two wins, and four top-fives.

His strokes gained stats are also impressive. The longest driver of the ball on the PGA Tour is second from off the tee. He’s third from tee to green and third total. Despite the missed putts at the U.S. Open, McIlroy is 35th putting.

While McIlroy might have to shake off the cobwebs to begin his defense, he will likely find his groove eventually. The last time he took a three-week break between tournaments was earlier this year after The Players Championship. When he returned at the Valero Texas Open, he finished third.

For the first two rounds of the Genesis Scottish Open, McIlroy forms an exciting group with RBC Canadian Open champion MacIntyre and last season’s FedEx Cup winner Viktor Hovland. They are scheduled to tee off at 3:28 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday.