U.S. Open Fact or Fiction: Rory McIlroy Will Never Win Another Major

As we bid farewell to Pinehurst, the SI Golf team assesses McIlroy's future, DeChambeau's Presidents Cup case and more.
Rory McIlroy missed a short putt on the 18th hole on Sunday at Pinehurst.
Rory McIlroy missed a short putt on the 18th hole on Sunday at Pinehurst. / John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the U.S. Open edition of SI Golf’s Fact or Fiction. We’re wrapping up major week with a series of statements for writers and editors to declare as “Fact” or “Fiction” along with a brief explanation. Responses may also (occasionally) be “Neutral” since there's a lot of gray area in golf.

Do you agree or disagree? Let us know on the SI Golf X account.

Rory McIlroy’s decade of major futility hit perhaps its lowest point Sunday with three bogeys in the final four holes which included two stunning missed putts from close range. He’ll never win another major.

Bob Harig: FICTION. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins at Royal Troon. But there is no question, this was a gut punch to the extreme. The questions will be endless, he didn’t answer any on Sunday, and there will be more to come. One of these times he shoots 64 and runs away with it but it’s understandable why anyone would believe this could end it all.

John Pluym: FICTION. He still has the game. He drives the ball farther and accurately than his competitors most of the time. His short game is still one of the best. But he could have put DeChambeau away with better consistency with his irons and his putting. I think he’ll win one more but time is running out. He knows it. If you were watching his reaction on TV when DeChambeau made his putt, you got to see how devastated he was getting close and then losing again. There are so many good to great players in the game that it’s not going to get any easier for him, either. 

Jeff Ritter: FICTION. This one is going to leave a mark, but McIlroy is simply too good, and putting himself in the mix too often, to never break through again. This may sound a little odd given what we all witnessed Sunday afternoon at Pinehurst, but I actually think he’s going to win two more and finish his career tied with Mickelson at six. . 

John Schwarb: FACT. Never is a mighty long time and McIlroy is still only 35, but how much more scar tissue can he take? There’s no “perhaps,” this was his lowest point in the 10-year drought and though I know this loss is fresh and we’re in the hot-take zone, I can’t see the drought ending.

Bryson DeChambeau’s win needs to increase the PGA Tour’s sense of urgency to reunify the game, and the Tour should start by getting DeChambeau on this fall’s U.S. Presidents Cup team. 

Bob Harig: FACT. It’s hard to believe he will be part of the Presidents Cup team but it’s time to figure out a way beyond all the strife. If LIV golfers could play in the Ryder Cup as Brooks Koepka did, it’s time to let them play in the Presidents Cup, too. Forget all the politics. Pick the best team. DeChambeau can’t earn points but Jim Furyk can pick him and you’d be silly to think he wouldn’t be an asset.

John Pluym: FACT. He’s one of the best players in the game. Get the deal done so we can stop with the bickering and the BS between the two tours. DeChambeau should also be on the U.S. Olympic team after his U.S. Open win and he won’t be. Do we want our country represented by the best players or by players who are just good enough?  

Jeff Ritter: FACT. No matter how you feel about him, or the league he currently plays for, DeChambeau is simply the best show in golf at the moment. But regardless of entertainment value, his U.S. Open title earned him a spot on the Presidents Cup team, just as Brooks Koepka earned his way onto the Ryder Cup squad last year by winning the PGA. 

John Schwarb: FACT. We already discussed the absurdity of Bryson not being on the U.S. Olympic team, but at least that is determined by a known formula via the world rankings. If the Tour wanted him at Royal Montreal, it could happen with a nudge to Jim Furyk for a captain’s pick. But Ponte Vedra will continue to act shortsighted, placating the membership and cheating the fans.

Rory McIlroy should be chastised for not doing interviews and quickly leaving the course after play was complete.

Bob Harig: FACT. It was crushing, to be sure. And Rory undoubtedly would have had little to say. But he knows the drill better than anyone. Jack Nicklaus was always outstanding in defeat. Greg Norman endured the questions for a long time after he blew the 1996 Masters to Nick Faldo. Jean Van de Velde was remarkable in defeat after a far more egregious loss at the 1999 British Open. Think about how gracious Tom Watson was after the heartbreaking loss to Stewart Cink at Turnberry. It stinks for McIlroy. No question. But. . . .

John Pluym: FACT. I get that the loss was excruciating. But don’t hide from it. The best in every profession go through excruciating losses. I’m sure coaches and players on the losing end of playoff games and Super Bowls would rather not face the media. Jack Nicklaus has the most runner-up finishes in major golf history. Yet, he never blew off his media responsibilities after finishing second. He defined what it meant to lose with class. McIlroy could learn a thing or two from the greatest in the game.

Jeff Ritter: FACT. I’m a Rory fan, but dashing off in the courtesy car is a bad look. A post-round interview would have been painful, but that’s what champions do: they win with grace, and they lose with grace. 

John Schwarb: FACT. He didn’t have to stay long and he didn’t have to do the full media car wash; a moment with NBC would have been enough.

Patrick Cantlay finished in a tie for third and now has the title of the best player without a major.

Bob Harig: FICTION. He’s in the conversation but Cantlay is not even the best in the top 10 in the world without a major. That “honor’’ goes to Ludvig Aberg, who probably deserves a bit more time trying, and Viktor Hovland, who’s been in position to win more majors than Cantlay.

John Pluym: FICTION. Maybe the best player without a golf hat at the Ryder Cup, but not the best player without a major. I’m starting to think that title belongs to Tony Finau after his impressive showing this week.  

Jeff Ritter: FICTION. It’s still Hovland for me, but Cantlay is squarely on the list. On to Royal Troon.

John Schwarb: FICTION. Until further notice I’m going with Tony Finau, the other half of this T3, who now has top-fivee finishes in every major.


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Jeff Ritter

JEFF RITTER

Jeff Ritter is the Managing Director of SI Golf. He spent more than a decade at Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine, and in 2020 joined Morning Read to help spark its growth and eventual acquisition by Sports Illustrated in 2022. He's a member of the Golf Writers' Association of America (GWAA) and has covered more than 25 major championships. He helped launch SI Golf Plus Digital, Golf Magazine’s first original, weekly e-magazine, and served as its top editor. He also launched Golf's “Films” division, the magazine’s first long-form video storytelling franchise, and his debut documentary received an Edward R. Murrow Award for sports reporting. His writing has earned first-place awards from the Society of American Travel Writers, the MIN Magazine Awards, and the Golf Writers Association of America, among others. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. A native Michigander, he remains a diehard Wolverine fan and will defend Jim Harbaugh until the bitter end.

Bob Harig

BOB HARIG

Bob Harig is a senior writer covering golf for Sports Illustrated. He has more than 25 years experience on the beat, including 15 at ESPN. Harig is a regular guest on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio and has written two books, "DRIVE: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods" and "Tiger and Phil: Golf's Most Fascinating Rivalry." He graduated from Indiana University where he earned an Evans Scholarship, named in honor of the great amateur golfer Charles (Chick) Evans Jr. Harig, a former president of the Golf Writers Association of America, lives in Clearwater, Fla.

John Schwarb

JOHN SCHWARB

John Schwarb is the senior golf editor for Sports Illustrated whose career has spanned more than 25 years covering sports. He’s been featured on ESPN.com, PGATour.com, The Golfers Journal and Tampa Bay Times. He’s also the author of The Little 500: The Story of the World's Greatest College Weekend. A member of the Golf Writers Association of America, John is based in Indianapolis.

John Pluym

JOHN PLUYM

John Pluym is the managing editor for NFL and golf content at Sports Illustrated. A sports history buff, he previously spent 10 years at ESPN overseeing NFL coverage. John has won several awards throughout his career, including from the Society of News Design and Associated Press Sports Editors. As a native Minnesotan, he enjoys spending time on his boat and playing golf.