Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands

U.S. Open

Jon Rahm says broadcast 'severely underplayed' the difficulty of Rory McIlroy's final putt at Pinehurst


Scott Taetsch/PGA of America

NBC on-course analyst Smylie Kaufman caught quite the stray during Jon Rahm's Legion XIII press conference at LIV Golf Nashville on Wednesday.

Rahm came to the defense of his longtime European Ryder Cup teammate, Rory McIlroy, who shockingly missed a three-foot, nine-inch putt on the 72nd green at Pinehurst No. 2 last Sunday. Had the Northern Irishman's par effort dropped, he would have secured a spot in a playoff with Bryson DeChambeau, keeping his chances of a fifth major title alive. 

Instead, McIlroy's ball darted right, lipping off the right edge and rolling two feet by. To the untrained eye, it looked like McIlroy had missed a "gimme" with a U.S. Open trophy on the line. Rahm, who was watching on the couch like the rest of us after withdrawing early in the week due to injury, believes it was anything but. 

"One of the things that absolutely burned me, I think it was Smylie [Kaufman] who said it, he severly underplayed how difficult Rory's putt on 18 was," Rahm said. "When they said it's a 'left-center' putt. If you hit that putt left center and you miss the hole, you're off the green, because of how much slope there is. 

"You could see Rory aiming at least a cup left from three feet," he continued. "They severely underplayed how difficult that putt was. Severely. I think that can happen a few times where, unless you've been there on the golf course and you're playing it, or you've played it, it's hard to truly explain how difficult that golf course can be." 

If you go back on watch the broadcast of McIlroy's final putt, you'll hear Kaufman say that he took a look from behind the green and said it was "not outside the hole, left-center putt, but you can make it if you start it right in the middle, too."

In fairness to Kaufman, McIlroy's putt, hit firmly at the left center of the hole, may very well have gone in. The problem with that, as Rahm said, is that a firm putt from where McIlroy was could be in danger of rolling off the green, and that's no exaggeration to those who watched balls pinballing all over Pinehurst No. 2's greens last week. 

Rahm also made sure to clarify how tricky the job of on-course analyst is. 

"A lot of times they only have those five seconds to say something quick," said Rahm. "Besides that, I thought [the broadcast] was good."

Rahm also had opinions on the broadcast schedule, which golf fans who found themselves having to pay for Peacock to watch a major championship will certainly sympathize with: