Rory McIlroy penalized under “stupid rules”
After Sergio Garcia saw himself in a rules flap yesterday in Abu Dhabi, Rory McIlroy faced a similar issue after Saturday’s third round.
According to McIlroy, he had to take a drop on the second hole at Abu Dhabi GC when his second shot landed in the rough, but in the spectator crosswalk, to which he is allowed to take relief. He took his drop and played his shot onto the green, but he was told after finishing on 18 by Ricardo Gonzalez’ caddie Dave Renwick that in Renwick’s opinion, one of his feet was still on the white line, indicating that he didn’t take full relief before playing the shot. McIlroy then grabbed a rules official to examine the situation, and when the two went back to look at the divot, it was obvious that McIlroy’s feet couldn’t have been anywhere else but on the line, and as such, he was given a two-shot penalty. What appeared to be a one-shot deficit and a final round grouping with leader Craig Lee has now turned into a three-shot gap and an earlier tee time for the world’s seventh ranked player. Full explanation below from the European Tour’s John Paramor:
“Rory’s ball came to rest in a marked gallery crosswalk to the left of the second fairway from which relief is available under the rules, as if it’s a piece of ground under repair. He found what he thought to be his nearest point of relief where the ball was outside and when he dropped the ball within a club’s length, when he actually stood to the ball, his left foot was standing on or just over the line demarking the area of ground under repair which is treated as part of the ground under repair. Therefore he has not taken full relief and he is in breach of the Rule 25-1, the penalty for which is two strokes.”
In a post-round interview, which you can watch here on the European Tour site, McIlroy explained that obviously it was a penalty and that he was fine with the ruling, but he also mentioned that he actually dropped the ball in a pretty bad lie and that if anything, the drop was actually a penalty already. If he had noticed his feet and re-dropped, it was likely that he would have dropped in a better lie and hit a better approach into the green then the one that allowed him to two-putt for par. He also then mentioned that the situation would give him some more motivation, but added, “stuff like this, it’s just, it’s sort of stupid. There’s a lot of stupid rules in golf, and this is one of them.” He then sent out this tweet:
When I posted yesterday about the Garcia situation, I mentioned that there was no point in turning it into a debate over the Rules of Golf, but in this case, it’s necessary to discuss. I’m not suggesting that McIlroy shouldn’t have been penalized here, because clearly he broke a rule so he needed to be docked a couple of shots. Renwick also did the right thing by telling McIlroy about the whole thing, and by waiting until the end of the round, he probably saved McIlroy a few shots as well, knowing full well that things like this can have a pretty big mental effect on a player.
With all of that said, and this is something that I’ve harped on previously, maybe it’s time that those with the power at the USGA and R&A start taking a look at the rulebook. For whatever reason, be it the players not knowing the rules or them being too confusing, it seems like we’ve run into an inordinate amount of violations in recent memory, and ones like this that seem trivial at best, do nothing but hurt the game. I can only imagine someone new coming to this blog today, someone who doesn’t know a ton about golf but is interested in it, and looking at the last two posts about the Rules of Golf and thinking, “Wow, this seems incredibly stupid.”
Obviously the game needs rules, and for what it’s worth, I don’t see the USGA and R&A looking at this situation or any other and having a sudden change of heart. Is it time for the individual tours, namely the PGA and European Tours, to create their own guidelines? I don’t know if that solves anything either. It’s admittedly a complicated situation, and it certainly appears that something needs to be done.
McIlroy tees off tomorrow in the second to last group with Pablo Larrazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez.