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ESPN Anchor Scott Van Pelt Blasts Rory McIlroy For Skipping Media Availability After U.S. Open Meltdown

ESPN Anchor Scott Van Pelt Blasts Rory McIlroy For Skipping Media Availability After U S Open Meltdown 532
Rory McIlroy, Scott Van Pelt. Getty Images (2)

Rory McIlroy’s silence spoke volumes after a late collapse at the U.S. Open cost him his chance at his first major title in a decade.

McIlroy, 35, missed two short putts on the 16th and 18th holes on Sunday, June 16, clearing the way for Bryson DeChambeau to emerge victorious by one stroke. 

After the debacle, McIlroy refused to speak with members of the media — which did not sit well with one of his most prominent supporters. 

“Now, Rory is one of my very favorite people in the sport for a lot of different reasons,” ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt said on Sportscenter Sunday night. “One, he’s a thinker and he answers things thoughtfully. He’s also a great champion. And today, understandably, a bitter pill. A chance to end this major-less drought, and it slips away as it did.”

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A victory at the U.S. Open would have been McIlroy’s first major title since winning the PGA Championship in 2014. He finished alone in second place, one stroke behind DeChambeau.

Van Pelt referenced other historic collapses Phil Mickelson at the 2006 U.S. Open and Greg Norman at the 1996 Masters, specifically — as examples of golfers who still “stood there and took it” and spoke to the media after their catastrophic rounds. 

“Rory today did not. And you just have to,” Van Pelt said. “How it got away on this Sunday and the fact that he walked away without speaking about it will both be remembered.”

ESPN Anchor Scott Van Pelt Blasts Rory McIlroy For Skipping Media Availability After U S Open Meltdown 531
Rory McIlroy. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Immediately after DeChambeau, 30, won the tournament, McIlroy was seen exiting Pinehurst Country Club in a hurry. He did not participate in his post-round press conference or speak to NBC reporters. 

According to The Athletic, the U.S. Open ended at 6:38 p.m., and McIlroy’s private jet took off at 7:29 p.m. for his home in Florida. 

“Rory is one of the best to ever play,” DeChambeau said after emerging victorious. “He’ll win multiple more major championships. There’s no doubt. I think that fire in him is going to continue to grow.”

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McIlroy at least had some company in avoiding his media responsibilities during the tournament. After his opening round on Thursday, June 13, Brooks Koepka refused to partake in his post-round press conference, instead agreeing to a text exchange with Golfweek reporter Eamon Lynch

“I opted not to do ’em just because I didn’t feel like it,” Koepka, 34, explained. “Same questions every week. The lack of creativity with questions is kinda boring. I know I’m not a media favorite either so it’s not like anyone will notice. LOL.”

People certainly noticed McIlroy’s absence, who Koepka referenced in his back-and-forth.

“Most golf fans don’t live or die on my statements,” Koepka continued. “I’m not Tiger Woods or Scottie Scheffler. And Rory. Everyone else is kind of an afterthought. I’m just not oblivious. Because that’s who I would wanna hear from. I wouldn’t be one I’d want to hear from. I’m good at removing myself from the situation and understanding as a fan.”

McIlroy is scheduled to return to action at this week’s Travelers Championship, which tees off Thursday, June 20, at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut. 

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