McIlroy penalised two-strokes; finishes one-stroke behind Larrazabal at Abu Dhabi Golf Championship

A rules infraction cost Rory McIlroy a trophy after not taking ‘full relief’ from GUR.

Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship yesterday by a shot from Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy. Larrazabal secured his third European Tour victory with a solid final round 67 but the exploits of Mickelson and McIlroy are dominating discussion.

Mickelson played typically audacious golf but shot himself out of the tournament after attempting to recover from under a bush on the 13th hole at Abu Dhabi GC. Mickelson turned the club over and played the shot right-handed but the ball hit the bush, then the club again to see The Open champion card a triple-bogey and tumble out of contention.

McIlroy could blame a third round rules infringement for ultimately falling short of winning.

After finishing his third round just a shot behind the leader, McIlroy was told he would be penalised two-strokes for taking an incorrect drop on the second hole. Tournament officials were alerted to the infraction by his playing partners’ caddie who noticed that McIlroy’s foot was on the line of the drop zone after taking relief for a spectator walkway marked GUR.

How to take full relief. Image courtesy of the RandA.

In this situation, you must take full relief according to Rule 25-1, meaning that you must drop your ball in such a way that your stance for the next shot is outside of the area marked GUR.

European Tour referee John Paramor outlined the incident:

“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.”

One aspect of the incident that has everybody talking is the role of Rory McIlroy’s playing partners’ caddie in all this. It wasn’t until McIlroy walked off the 18th green that caddy of playing partner Ricardo Gonzalez, Dave Renwick informed him of the potential penalty. Renwick has said he did not have time to shout to McIlroy before he played the shot and did not see anything could be gained by telling McIlroy of the problem until after the round.

McIlroy was understandably upset and labelled the rule ‘stupid’ after the third round:

“I didn’t even know my foot was on the line,” McIlroy said. “We went back to see it again there and see where my divot was, and it was clear that I couldn’t have played the shot with my feet anywhere else. I guess I was so much into the shot I didn’t even realize. … There’s a lot of stupid rules and this is one of them.”

While it is a quirky rule, I don’t agree that it’s a stupid rule. If marking an area where you don’t want golfers to play a shot from, that should include taking your stance too. McIlroy was even less impressed when he mentioned that his lie after the drop was a bad one too.

If he had known the rules a little better he may have had a better lie – and another trophy to his name.

One thought on “McIlroy penalised two-strokes; finishes one-stroke behind Larrazabal at Abu Dhabi Golf Championship

  • I think Michelson’s penalty was also from a stupid rule. If the ball is in the air and unintentionally strikes the club, how can it be deemed an unfair advantage. more like a disadvantage even without the penalty.


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