Should Rory McIlroy’s caddie have ‘stepped in’ at U.S. Open? Analyst says yes

Rory McIlroy, Harry Diamond

Rory McIlroy and Harry Diamond on the 15th hole at Pinehurst during the U.S. Open's final round.

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Rory McIlroy missed from 3 feet, 9 inches away on the 18th hole during the U.S. Open’s final round. 

And from 2 feet, 6 inches away on the 16th hole.

But Smylie Kaufman also remembers a decision on the 15th hole, where, had it been made differently, he believes McIlroy “could have taken control of the championship” that Bryson DeChambeau ended up winning. Instead, McIlroy hit 7-iron on the 205-yard par-3 at Pinehurst, his ball rolled off the back of the green and next to a patch of native grass — and Kaufman is wondering if McIlroy’s caddie should have intervened. 

“I felt like Harry Diamond really should have stepped in on the 15th hole,” the on-course NBC analyst said.

He was talking on this week’s episode of GOLF’s Subpar podcast, which you can watch in full here. He’d also been walking with McIlroy last month during the Open, and Kaufman thought McIlroy should have hit an 8-iron on the championship’s 69th hole. 

“He did not have the right club in his hands,” Kaufman said on the podcast. “And I felt like Rory could have taken control of the championship on 15 if he just hits it in the middle of the green. And he hit a good shot. But it just was the wrong club. And never, never was a 7-iron for Rory. Especially with a right flag. If the wind was down off the right, it’s not exactly a flag and a wind condition and the heat to be able to land it in a hula hoop, where you got to hit this kind of soft, spinny, fade 7-iron. It was an 8-iron all day, hit it in the middle of the green. 

“I would say that was a huge, huge mistake.”

After the tee shot, McIlroy managed a bump-and-run chip shot to 31 feet, and he missed the ensuing putt to the left to start a stretch that saw him bogey three of his final four holes. On the podcast, Kaufman said if “anything on that hole, short was where you wanted to leave it [with the tee shot].”

But what could Diamond have done there? That was asked by Subpar co-host Drew Stoltz. 

A conversation followed among Kaufman, Stoltz and Colt Knost, another Subpar co-host who also works as a CBS on-course analyst. It examined the McIlroy-Diamond dynamic, other player-caddie relationships and digestion of poor shots. 

Rory mcilroy leaving the Pinehurst clubhouse after us open on sunday
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Said Kaufman: “To be fair, and I want to maybe ask Colt about this, too, it’s not unusual for Rory to kind of make all the decisions. I don’t really ever see Harry stepping in a ton. Rory always, if he has a question, he’ll ask, but for the most part, Rory kind of goes and does his thing and he’s got a lot of feel. I don’t know if you feel that way, too.” 

Said Knost: “Well, in my opinion, and this isn’t a knock on a lot of the caddies, but a lot of the caddies nowadays are much more vocal. You know, they’re on TV a lot more. And Harry’s very soft-spoken. I think he does give his opinion; it’s just not out loud for the boom mic to pick up like a lot of the other guys.” 

Said Kaufman: “Yeah, I didn’t pick anything up on 15, but …” 

Said Knost: “I think he is very soft-spoken and he’s not out there to be heard or anything like that. But he does give his opinion to Rory. Harry’s a great player, by the way. There’s a lot of criticisms. … Should he move on? And I was like, dude, Rory feels comfortable with his guy. It’s one of his best friends in the world, they’ve won together — I mean, it’s not Harry out there hitting the shots.” 

Said Kaufman: “I just think there was a wrong decision made, and when it comes down to one shot, which it did, there was one shot that …”

Said Stoltz: “The miss was in the wrong spot, I think is the bottom line. If you’re going to miss anything, if you’re in between, like we got to be short.” 

Said Kaufman: “In my head, as a player, when you execute a shot exactly how you’re supposed to and it ends up in a terrible spot, you have to look at, all right, what happened here. Because that’s what happened at the 15th hole. I know Pinehurst, there’s a lot of luck involved. Maybe that ball doesn’t bounce as hard and it stays in that fairway cut and he chips up and makes a bogey anyways. OK, that’s fine. 

“I think I’m talking about it because of where the golf ball ended up, that when a pro hits a good shot and ends up in a bad place, you got to have to question the club and the decision.”

Editor’s note: To watch the entire Subpar episode, please click here or scroll below. 

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at

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