Rory McIlroy can chalk up a 2-stroke penalty received in the third round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship to a quirk in the Rules of Golf.
McIlroy's score dropped from 11 under to 9 under following the round on Saturday when European Tour rules officials confirmed with the Ulsterman that he did not take complete relief from a spectator pathway to the left of the second hole.
"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," explained European Tour chief referee John Paramor after the round.
"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."
McIlroy was assessed the penalty under Rule 25-1, but was required to redrop under Rule 20-2c
The violation was reported to McIlroy by Dave Renwick, playing partner Ricardo Gonzalez's caddie, and was investigated after McIlroy completed what he thought was a 4-under 68 to trail leader Craig Lee by a shot, one clear of Phil Mickelson, whose 9-under 63 left catapulted him into contention.
McIlroy was understandably frustrated by the ruling, saying, according to Golf by Tour Miss, “There [are] a lot of stupid rules in golf and this is one."