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McIlroy Penalized: "There are a lot of stupid rules in golf and this is one of them."

A 68 turned into a 70 for Rory McIlroy after he took relief from a second hole spectator crossing but still had part of his foot on the Ground Under Repair line marking the crossing. More intriguingly, McIlroy was notified of a possible issue on the 18th green by caddie Dave Renwick who was looping for playing partner Ricardo Gonzalez.

Alistair Tait, reporting from Abu Dhabi:

Renwick, McIlroy and European Tour chief referee John Paramor revisited the spot to confirm the violation.

“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,” Paramor said. “When he actually stood tothe ball, his left foot was standing on or just over the line demarking the area of ground under repair. Therefore he has not taken complete relief, and he is in breach of Rule 25-1.”

McIlroy does not begrudge caddie Renwick for spotting the violation according to this comprehensive unbylined Belfast Telegraph story.

"You have to adhere to the rules of this game and he (Renwick) was pointing out something he thought was questionable," McIlroy added. "He was just doing what I guess anyone would."

Bob Harig sums up the crux of the issue:

This might be a dumb rule, and McIlroy is right to be angry about it. But he should know better, and so should his caddie, J.P. Fitzgerald. Perhaps he was so close to the line, the events occurring so quickly, that they missed it. But another caddie in the group spotted the violation; he waited until after the round to tell McIlroy, so as not to distract him but to also make sure he could review the situation before signing his scorecard. posted this interview with McIlroy after the round where McIlroy explains what happened and his view on the rule, which while clear, won't prove to be a proud day for the Rules of Golf:

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Reader Comments (42)

You have to admit that Rory is refreshing in his willingness to take full responsibility, even if the rule is "stupid."
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterEast End Golfer
Funny how any rule a pro doesn't understand is a "stupid rule"…
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterWill o'the Glen
Think the more interesting quote from Rory post-round, was when he said he didn't have time to know the rules, he had better things to do. Rory seems to run into one of these a year. Maybe it's because he's "a bit cavalier with the rules" :p
01.18.2014 | Unregistered Commenterelf
Nothing at all stupid about the rule. If you are going to take relief, you must take complete relief from casual water, cart paths, crosswalks...Stupid for neither the caddy nor the player to understand the rule, yes. Kind of like forgetting that sand not on the green is not a loose impediment.
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Stupid - ah yes because one does not like them, even if they are known but the golfer does not take care when addressing the ball or playing the shot.

What silly Rules we have, but even more stupid when you consider that the Pro's make a great living out of the game but perhaps the Rules are really not meant for them - just us mere mortals who do try to uphold the integrity of the game, oh we are so stupid but perhaps the game to us means more than appearance or prize money.

Yet there are indeed many stupid Rules that golfers and players take full advantage of yet its refreshing when someone admits they made an error and breached a Rule.

Honest in golf - what a great concept.
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterOld Tom
Well the wee Irish lad who bombs it 320+ off the tee will never make the same mistake again, of that I can guarantee you. RIP by the way to JP, it's been nice knowin' you fella. Hear on the grapevine there are some bags goin' on the Euro Pro tour for ye ? …

By the way let's send out a cheer to Davey R by the way - what a pro the man is for a) spotting this in the first place, b) not saying anything to RM during the round and c) telling him on 18 green before he signed his card, thereby stopping some anorak in Wisconsin (or similar state) calling in the violation. Cheers DR my man, you are gold and a credit to your profession.
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterMorad Man
There's not one thing in this interview that makes Roy look like anything but a solid individual and a true pro. He took his penalty and is moving on. The rule, as applied, lime here, is dumb...but even Roy admits, it's a rule, so he gets his penalty shots. I don't get the snark in these comments. They don't appear to be warranted in the slightest.
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterJRP
The Rules are not stupid, Pro's who play for $millions without even learning the basic Rules of dropping are.
Some Pro's put their caddies through Rules school to have an extra pair of eyes on this - Renwick?
JP could have saved Rory $96,000 and a possible win previously - was that also Dubai? The 'sand on the fringe' mistake.
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterNigel
What? Noone called him a cheater?
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
Agree that a smart player would insist that his caddy become ultra knowledgeable about the rules, and step in for all drops and other situations requiring such knowledge. Charley Rhymer was adamant today on GC that the solution to this is to have a rules official with each and every group on the course. (and I know there was a thread or two on that topic here a few weeks back). I'm fine with that idea, but I have a couple of questions on how it would actually work:

1. In this instance for example, would the official have to wait and be "called on" by Rory ? Or would he step in, prior to the drop, and spell out the options available to the player ?
2. If the official simply was there as a resource, and he/she saw Rory standing on the line, ball in his hand, would he stop Rory from committing the bad drop, or simply inform him after the fact that strokes would be added ?
3. What if the official missed the fact that Rory was standing on the line ? Would there still be a breach / penalty applied when someone else reported it later ? One of the goals I understand is to ban "call ins".
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
Without this rule, I could drop within the relief zone and if I didn't like my lie and re-drop as many times as I wanted as I would always be entitled to relief. How is this rule stupid?
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterNo Longer
"There's a lot of stupid rules..." plus " posted this interview with McIlroy after the round where McIlroy explains what happened and his view on the rule, which while clear, won't prove to be a proud day for the Rules of Golf"

Let's look at the alternative i.e., that the player is permitted to drop his ball in a position where he continues to have interference from the condition and THEN CHOOSE whether to play the ball from that position or, as he does still have interference, re-drop the ball. Would that be a better rule? HELL NO -- in that case the player would have a choice of lies.

@JRP, I think there should be more snark for players who can't be bothered to learn the rules of their game - far more.
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
1 with pros they would stay pout of it until called in for a normal situation.
2 if he saw the foot on the line he would attempt to stop it
3 if the official didn't see it, it would still be a penalty if seen in some other way. Official might have been working with another player

This might lessen call ins but wouldn't eliminate them
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterBb
Far from being a stupid rule, I think it's one of the most logical, called for rules in golf. For the reasons outlined above by KLG, No Longer and CP.
01.18.2014 | Unregistered Commenterdbh
No Longer....Exactly correct.

If you are going to take relief from GUR, then you need to take complete relief...otherwise your stance after the drop still leaves you in the GUR and you would be entitled to relief (another drop) again.

If anything, NOT having this rule in place would be stupid!
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
Rory: It's more stupid to not know the rules of the game from which you make your living.
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterRgw
@Carl - he knew the rule, he just didn't pay attention to the fact that he was violating it.
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterJRP
KLG has got it right.

Knowing the rules are fundamental to everyone who plays competition golf, particularly professionals. This was not a proud day for Rory or his caddie, they only have themselves to blame.

There are some dumb rules in the game, but this is not one of them.

I recall playing Q-school at Deerwood with my buddy Steve Flesch. It was the final round. Steve hit his ball in the hazard by the green on the 4th hole. As he took his drop the ball came to rest in a poor lie close but not in the hazard. Making it that Steve had to stand with one foot in the hazard to play the shot. Steve said, “I need to take another drop, to get full relief,” from the hazard and went down to pick up the ball.

I interrupted him before he picked it up to re-drop and said, “That ball is in play.” Flesch said, “I need to take full relief from the hazard line.”

I said, “The full relief rule doesn’t apply to dropping and taking a penalty stroke from a hazard, you are thinking of full relief from GUR or a cart path, that ball is in play.”

We went back and forth on the rule and Steve was adamant on taking full relief from the hazard. I then said, “OK, go ahead if you want.” So, he picked up his ball and took full relief, played the shot and finished the hole. As we walked off the green a Tour official came around the corner and I asked the official to speak with Steve about his drop. They spoke and Steve learned about that rule and took his penatly.

How is it that we learn about rules most effectively when they affect us in a negative way?
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterZokol
Don't understand critical comments toward Rory. He's as likable as they come...admitted his mistake and that's that. Is there anything pro golfers can do or say that the "experts" around here don't pounce on?
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterLip Out
Alternate headline-- "There are a lot of stupid players in golf, and McIlroy is one of them"
01.18.2014 | Unregistered Commenterroger
If Dave Renwick was in position to suspect a rules violation, why didn't he speak up BEFORE Rory played his shot?
Does a caddy not have the responsibility to "protect the field"?
01.18.2014 | Unregistered Commenterdougm
Why didn't that caddie say something before Rory hit the shot?
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterSabs
What's the status of that pesky wisdom tooth? Lip Out, got an update for us there?
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
As much as I gripe about the rules, this is not one of them. It is a good rule.

While I applaud the caddy for waiting until the round was over, but before RMc signed, I also question why he didn't stop him before he hit......
01.18.2014 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
For JRP I would like to revise the last sentence of my previous post.

I think there should be more snark for players who can't be bothered to learn the rules of their game or who take insufficient care to apply them properly - far more.
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
That is the question, Digs. Even at my piddling level I have often reminded a fellow competitor that his ball was in the hazard, so remember to avoid touching the ground or any "loose impediment" in same. Once again we go to the Master, Harvey Penick, who says he was most proud of Tom Kite when he (Tom) reminded Grant Waite (IIRC) that he had not taken complete relief from a cart path or obstruction and needed to re-drop to avoid a penalty.
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
For Dougm, Sabs
From Steve Elling's report on the incident in The National: "Renwick said that by the time he saw McIlroy’s foot on the line, he had hit the shot, so he waited until after the round to tell him of the possible rules issue, so that the news did not weigh on the 24 year old during the final 16 holes.
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Keogh
The other caddie can't speak up though can he, otherwise Rory would have been taking advice from someone other that himself or his caddie, which as far as I aware is also against the rules.
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterChris Campbell
1. In this instance for example, would the official have to wait and be "called on" by Rory ? NO Or would he step in, prior to the drop, and spell out the options available to the player ? YES
2. If the official .... saw Rory standing on the line, ball in his hand, would he stop Rory from committing the bad drop, YES
3. What if the official missed the fact that Rory was standing on the line ? HE/SHE GETS THE SACK AFTER THE ROUND. Would there still be a breach / penalty applied when someone else reported it later ? NO WITH A REF IN PLACE THE REF'S DECISION IS FINAL. One of the goals I understand is to ban "call ins". MY RESPONSES WOULD ACHIEVE THIS.
The Tours spend hundreds of thousands each round on Shotlink etc instead of paying 60 weekday /35 weekend referees.
Information on the rules is not advice, Chris Campbell.
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
Golf is rife with stupid rules, unfortunately with Mike Coo Coo Bird Davis as the head of the USGA, more dumb rules are to follow.
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterNick
Walking officials at USGA events were specifically told NOT to call out rulings to players during the round if they noticed a violation, contrary to what was done for many years. They were only to help if asked. Supposedly, from good sources, this came about because the Tour Pros did not want the USGA officials to bother them during the round. So BrianS, the answer to your question about would they step in is probably unknown. The rules really are not that tough, and if a pro has a difficult one or question he can call for a rules official and they are usually close by. Every group with a walking official, weekly, is just not going to happen.
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterJacque Artel
Will o'the Glen, elf - Rory DID NOT gain an advantage. It is a stupid rule. Didn't they just change a rule this year on account of what happened to Tiger last year?

No Longer - incorrect. Player gets only three drops. If ball doesn't stop in a "correct" location, then player must place by hand. In this case, after assessing his stance, Rory should have dropped again. Most pros call an official when going through this process.

Zokoi - brings up an even stupider rule by comparison. In one situation, a player is forced to stand partly in a hazard after taking a drop -- penalized for lack of skill in takig a drop. In another, a player is forced to redrop to avoid taking a shot with his foot in ground under repair. Does anyone else see the iconsistency of this?
01.18.2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Duffer
The lack of rules knowledge from people who think they know what they are talking about on here is staggering!!it would take all day to correct them! Take note of Carl P and Nigel on the rules- they know what they are talking about.Jaque A - I Have been reffing for 25 years- I would always stop a player breaching.a rule if I could and I have certainly never been told not to.
01.19.2014 | Unregistered CommenterChico
The ROG are not stupid, not knowing how to apply them correctly is.

When in doubt, and playing for the stakes they are, simply call for an official and take the doubt out of the equation.

@ Chico, Carp P., and Nigel hit it on the head.

If a Wall Street broker said he didn't know insider trading was illegal does that make the "rule stupid"?
Please remind the lad he would be playing for his own $$$, not M $$$ purses, were it not for the Rules and integrity therein. BTW, Paine Stewart suffered same--not taking complete relief. He did not whine.
01.19.2014 | Unregistered Commenterdinosaur
interesting how many times Pros don't know the rules and when they get caught the rule is Stupid.

what if Rory's caddie had caught the other player doing the same thing and rory went on to win by a stroke. would the rule still be stupid?
01.19.2014 | Unregistered Commentermorphy
Joe Duffer

The reason for the difference is that you can take a drop if your stance or ball is effective by gur but the water hazard rule is lie of ball specific
01.19.2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark
@Brian Keogh

Thanks for the information.
01.19.2014 | Unregistered Commenterdougm
Mark said : "you can take a drop if your stance or ball is effective by gur but the water hazard rule is lie of ball specific"
This is what frustrates those of us who want the rules to be simplified. I'm a supporter of the Lateral Water Hazard Rule for all situations when the ball has "gone"- OB, water hazard, bushes. But it will not happen. I'm also a supporter for a set of "Social Rules" which are less than 1000 words and intuitive, so that a player can play S Rules and still put their card in.
The difference between what to do in GUR and a WH is not intuitive. It may even be silly.

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