RORY MCILROY PLAYS SECRET ROUND ALONG WITH RAHM AND POULTER IN FIRST OUTING SINCE US OPEN HEARTBREAK

Rory McIlroy returned to the golf course on Monday, playing the exclusive pro-member event at Queenwood Golf Club alongside Jon Rahm and Ian Poulter.

McIlroy has not featured competitively since agonisingly missing out on winning his first major championship in 10 years at last month's US Open. With five holes left at the third flagship event of the year, McIlroy held a two-shot lead over Bryson DeChambeau, but things soon went wrong.

Three bogeys in his final four holes - which included two short missed putts - saw McIlroy squander his lead, allowing DeChambeau to swoop in and claim victory at Pinehurst No. 2 by a single shot.

READ MORE: Sergio Garcia makes plea to Open bosses after call for majors to 'dump' world rankingsREAD MORE: Keegan Bradley showed true colours with response to Ryder Cup rejection from Zach Johnson

In the aftermath, the four-time major winner opted to take a three-week break away from competing but will finally return to defend his Scottish Open title at The Renaissance Club on Thursday. To get himself tournament ready, McIlroy entered the annual pro-member at Queenwood on Monday, per Golf Monthly.

He was joined in the field by both Rahm and Poulter, who have been close allies of McIlroy before opting to make the move to LIV Golf. McIlroy - who has played alongside both Rahm and Poulter as part of the European Ryder Cup team - has previously been one of LIV's biggest critics.

In recent months however the 35-year-old has softened his stance on the Saudi-backed series, a u-turn that was welcomed by Poulter. "I feel bad for Rory,” the Englishman told Gulf News in February. "His beliefs and the information that he was given that led him to make those comments were obviously potentially slightly misleading, right?

For all the latest on news, politics, sports, and showbiz from the USA, go to The Mirror US.

"Therefore, he's in an awkward position because, now all of a sudden, it doesn’t look as good as it was. But listen, I don’t need to single Rory out, everyone knows who everyone is that has said certain things. I don't need to individually call anyone out in this business as everyone knows.

"When you’re going to speak out against something yet demand a certain amount of money to move across and then you didn’t, but bash the product, you better be careful.” McIlroy's relaxed approach came after he saw one of his key teammates in Rahm make the move last December, after the Spaniard signed a record-breaking deal worth a reported £450 million.

In the aftermath of the marquee switch, McIlroy called on a change in the Ryder Cup rules to allow Rahm to be eligible to compete at Bethpage Black next September "Jon is going to be in Bethpage in 2025 so, because of this decision, the tour are going to have to rewrite the rules for Ryder Cup eligibility, absolutely,” McIlroy told Sky Sports News.

“There’s no question about that. I certainly want Jon Rahm on the next Ryder Cup team. I’m going to miss competing against him week in and week out. He’s got so much talent, he’s so tenacious, he’s a great teammate in the Ryder Cup.”

2024-07-10T09:40:26Z dg43tfdfdgfd