U.S. Open 2019: Why Rory McIlroy had a brief putter scare following his win in Canada

June 12, 2019

Michael Reaves

PEBBLE BEACH — Rory McIlroy’s game-used winning putter at last week’s RBC Canadian Open in exchange for a Toronto Raptors jersey? There hasn’t been a trade that bad since the Knicks sent three draft picks to the Raptors for Andrea Bargnani in 2013.

Luckily for McIlroy, one of the favorites at this week’s U.S. Open, the swap with Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum was only a temporary one following the Northern Irishman’s rousing seven-stroke victory at Hamilton Golf & Country Club.

“He gave me a Raptors jersey (not even a Kawhi Leonard one but a Kyle Lowry one, no less), and I gave him my putter and thought he was going to give it to [my caddie] up at the scoring area,” McIlroy said Wednesday. “And I saw Harry. He goes, ‘Where's your putter?’ And I said, ‘I better go find it.’

“So, no, I definitely didn't give it away. I know I've done some stupid things in the past, but that would have been right up there.”

No kidding. McIlroy ranked sixth in the field in strokes gained: putting and led the field with 26 birdies for the week on his way to the blowout win that included a final-round 61.

“I said to Harry, ‘Could you go and find Laurence? He's got my putter,’” McIlroy said. “And put it back in the bag and make sure the bag gets on the plane and goes to California.

“That was really it. The guy I gave it to was running the golf tournament. He knows it's not for him.”

As for the Raptors jersey, McIlroy got to keep that and brought it with him to Pebble Beach. Not that he'll be breaking it out given that he's in Golden State Warriors territory.

“I'll be obviously an interested onlooker this week [of the NBA Finals] and it's a nice distraction from what we're doing, " he said. "But that Raptors jersey this week is probably staying in the suitcase."