Friday 23 August 2019

'I thought it was a rock' - Rory McIlroy has two-shot penalty rescinded to stay in contention at the Northern Trust

Rory McIlroy looks out at the fourth hole during the second round of The Northern Trust golf tournament at Liberty National Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Rory McIlroy looks out at the fourth hole during the second round of The Northern Trust golf tournament at Liberty National Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Rory McIlroy had a two-shot penalty rescinded at The Northern Trust after it was determined he had not intended to improve his lie in a bunker.

McIlroy was punished on the course after finding the bunker on the par three 14th at Liberty National.

The Northern Irishman bent down to remove what he thought was a small stone behind his ball but, when he touched it, McIlroy realised it was just a clump of sand.

McIlroy told rules officials what he had done, and he was originally given a two-shot penalty as it was considered he could have tested the surface.

But PGA Tour rules officials later reversed the decision, and McIlroy eventually carded a three-under-par 68 to leave him tied for seventh and three shots adrift of halfway leader Dustin Johnson.

"It's such a grey area and it came down to me," McIlroy said after his round, adding that he had accepted a two-stroke penalty on the New Jersey course because he did not want to hold up play.

"I thought it was a rock; it wasn't. I moved my hand away and then I was like, I don't know if I've done anything wrong here.

"The reason I called someone over is I don't want anything on my conscience, either.

"I feel like I play the game with integrity and I'm comfortable saying that I didn't improve anything."

Johnson has a one-shot lead over Jordan Spieth at the first regular post-season FedEx Cup event.

Abraham Ancer, Troy Merritt, Patrick Reed and Jon Rahm are a further shot back.

Englishman Justin Rose and McIlroy are among a group of five players on nine under.

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