Rory McIlroy's controversial penalty gets rescinded

New golf rules cause confusion at Northern Trust, but McIlroy gets let off the hook...

Andy Roberts's picture
Tue, 13 Aug 2019
Rory McIlroy's controversial penalty gets rescinded

Rory McIlroy's controversial two-stroke penalty during the second round at The Northern Trust was later rescinded before signing his scorecard.

McIlroy thought he had finished at 7-under par and five strokes behind halfway leader Dustin Johnson, but he moved up to 9-under par after tournament officials looked into the incident. 

The former World No.1 was three shots off the lead when he found the bunker at the par-3 14th, but before playing his second shot, reached down to remove what he thought was a small stone (loose impediment) behind his golf ball in the sand.

But McIlroy quickly realised it was just a clump of sand.



The old rules of golf stated no impediment could be removed, however under the new rules, players are now permitted to "remove loose impediments" from the bunker.

McIlroy alerted the PGA Tour rules official as to what had happened, and he was initially handed a two-stroke penalty for having touched the sand. 

Under the new rules of golf, players "cannot deliberately touch sand in the bunker with their hand, club or rake to test the condition of the sand and learn information for their next stroke."

A penalty will also be enforced if touching the sand "improves the conditions affecting" the player's shot. 

McIlroy argued he did not feel he had moved the sand or even improved his lie, but he accepted the penalty until a decision was reached after the round that the penalty would be overturned.  

The Northern Irishman got his ball up and down, but it went down as a double bogey, until it became a par after the round.

McIlroy then bounced back with a birdie at the next hole.

Instead of going into the weekend five back, McIlroy move back to within three of the lead. 

Story updated: McIlroy went on to shoot weekend rounds of 70 and 69 to finish tied sixth and four strokes behind eventual winner Patrick Reed.

McIlroy has now racked up 13 top-10 finishes, more than any other player on Tour this season. 

He enters this week's BMW Championship at third in the FedEx Cup as he goes in seach of winning his second FedEx Cup.