Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.
"There are a lot of stupid rules in golf,” McIlroy said after a third-round incident at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, "and this is one of them."
(McIlroy went on to finish in a second-place tie with Phil Mickelson, a shot behind winner Pablo Larrazabal.)
In case you missed it, McIlroy was informed by his playing partner's caddie, David Renwick, of his possible infringement on the second hole as they walked off the 18th green.
European Tour Chief Referee John Paramor summed it all up:
"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.""It's disappointing because I didn't gain any advantage by my foot being on a bit of white paint," said McIlroy, who fell three shots off the lead and into a tie for fourth place.
One can understand why some might call the infraction excessively nit-picking. But there's a reason why you are required to take full relief under this rule. Without this requirement, it would be possible to continually seek free relief from the interference and therefore re-drop the ball until you get the most favourable lie.
McIlroy knows this as well as anyone, as he revealed in his post round comments.
"The thing is, if I had realised or if I had known that my foot was on the line, I would have said, 'hold on a minute here, I need to take full relief. It's a bad lie anyway, drop it again I might get a better one.'"
Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.