Walking off the 18th green, Rory McIlroy thought he was within one shot of the lead at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Saturday morning only to find out he may have taken an illegal drop at the second hole. After reviewing the situation with the officials, Rory was given a two-stroke penalty before signing an incorrect score card, and signed for a two under par 70 instead of a four under 68.
How asinine can the rules of golf be? McIlroy determined after hitting his tee shot at the 600 yard par five second hole off-line that he was in a walk area for fans. He took his drop and hit his shot not realizing he was standing on the hazard line.
He said in an interview after the matter was settled that his lie after the drop was actually worse than the one he started with. Had he realized that his foot was on the line, he would have attempted another drop before hitting his shot.
He also indicated that he and his caddie were so focused on the shot that they didn’t realize he was in violation of the rules.
I tend to agree with Charley Rymer on Morning Drive. If the rules aren’t simplified, the tours should provide a rules official with each and every group. The alternative is of course, simplify the rules that were determined 400 years ago before High Definition cameras were invented.
McIlroy made mention in his interview, that it was maybe time to make some changes. It was fortunate that the incident was identified before he signed his scorecard and incurred more penalties for such a minor infraction.
Rory had made it through a mediocre round where again, he wasn’t able to get many putts to drop. The double bogey at two was only the second bogey he has made all week. The penalty drops him three strokes of the lead, held by Craig Lee of Scotland who is at -12 under par.
Lee will have to beat McIlroy, and Phil Mickelson if he wants to pick up his first tour win when they get underway on Sunday. Mickelson blistered the course on Saturday, missing the course record by one stroke. Lee is ranked 209 in the world, and has never won a tournament during his 15 year career.
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