Thursday 23 May 2019

McIlroy's knowledge of rules leaves Aussies in a spin

Bernie McGuire in Melbourne

RORY McILROY'S knowledge of the rules left his Australian playing partners somewhat embarrassed during his opening round of 70 in the Australian Masters in Melbourne.

McIlroy's ball had come to rest behind a sprinkler head on the edge of the 11th green of the Huntingdale course.

The 18-year old rookie pro then sought to take relief in using a driver to take a two club length drop as he was quite entitled but McIlroy's actions were quickly questioned by Aaron Baddley and John Senden.

While both grew up on courses like Huntingdale, they compete regularly on the US Tour where the links-like conditions of the Huntingdale course are a rarity and players are more used to chipping over any such obstructions rather than using the putter from what was a closely mown area around the 11th green.

Baddeley, who won the FBR Open on this year's Tour, and Senden who is the reigning Australian Open champion suggested to McIlroy he was not within in the rules to take relief and he should chip the ball.

Pocket

But in the Ulsterman's back pocket was a copy of the local rules issued to every player this week and clearly printed on the document was the approval for the relief McIlroy was seeking.

The Australasian Tour's chief rules official, Andrew Langford-Jones was called and confirmed McIlroy's intentions were correct.

"It's a problem we always have and that is we issue a supplementary local rules sheet to all players but they just don't read it," said Langford-Jones.

"Rory's actions were correct and it's a local rule that's in effect on a lot of courses like Huntingdale and also including Carnoustie where the British Open was held this year.

"It's just that Aaron and John are so used to competing in the US where you don't get the conditions we have here at Huntingdale and after being called over by Rory's caddy, I explained to all three players that Rory's actions were proper and he took relief as per the rules."

McIlroy featured heavily all afternoon on live TV coverage of the co-sanctioned event and he also won enormous support from those following his group which is in contrast to two years ago when the then relatively unknown amateur had superbly made the cut to eventually finish in a share of 45th place.

His return as a professional to Melbourne featured birdies at the fifth, seventh and eighth holes that moved him to within two strokes of the lead.

However, McIlroy then dropped a shot at the ninth when his drive found trees right of the fairway from where he had to chip out.

He then parred all nine holes on the back nine to finish in a share of 10th place.

"I feel as though I did okay out there today. It was tough and it got very windy towards the end of the round, so two- under-par is pretty good."

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