All’s well that ends well, at least for Rory McIlroy who has been cleared of any wrong-doing after a controversial embedded ball incident last Saturday at The Farmers.
McIlroy took relief for an embedded ball on the final hole of his moving day round but it came to light on Sunday that his ball had bounced before becoming embedded in the rough on the right of 18. With Patrick Reed under fire for a similar incident in which he deemed his ball to have embedded on the second bounce, McIlroy was forced to defend his actions before a Tour email on Monday shed some light on the mystery of this particular embedded ball.
Rory McIlroy takes embedded ball relief on No. 18 during Round 3. pic.twitter.com/9D4HH4Gv5g
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 31, 2021
“It’s funny,” McIlroy explained prior to this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. “What’s come to light is, so on 18 as we were searching for my ball, what wasn’t apparent at the time, but an email was sent to the Tour on Monday, was that my ball was stepped on to be found, but the volunteer didn’t tell me that on Saturday so that’s why I took embedded ball relief… because it was an embedded ball.
“I didn’t know it had been stepped on at the time. Obviously the video came out on Sunday with my ball bouncing and then going in so at that point I was thinking it must’ve gone back into it’s own pitch mark or something because the ball was obviously plugged but then it came to light on Monday that a volunteer had stepped on it and hadn’t told me and that’s why it was embedded.
“It’s funny, I went to bed on Sunday night questioning whether I’d done the right thing after seeing the video… it’s so weird… the Tour got an email from a volunteer on Monday saying he didn’t say anything at the time but he should have, that he stepped on the ball to find it. I guess at the end of the day I almost took wrong relief because I should’ve taken a stepped on ball which means you could place it instead of dropping it but I didn’t have that information at the time. I at least felt better about my actions knowing that I did the right thing. It’s sort of nice that it came to light because I was questioning myself on Sunday a bit. It’s funny how these things all work out at the end.”
With a squeaky clean reputation when it comes to playing by the rules, McIlroy was dragged into a controversy alongside Patrick Reed who has had his fair share of past indiscretions on Tour by comparison. And although McIlroy admits he went to bed doubting whether or not he did the right thing, he can now move on with his reputation intact.
“It was a bit of a rough Sunday night,” McIlroy said.”I started to doubt myself a bit which is not like me but I was convinced it was an embedded ball. I think the volunteer said something like, I’m so sorry that Rory has been dragged into this whole scenario but I didn’t tell him on Saturday that I actually stood on his ball to find it.”
Perhaps the PGA Tour may feel the need to issue McIlroy an apology given they were quick to compare his particular incident to that of Reed, seemingly to clear Reed’s name and save the face of the brand? Or did the same volunteer step on Reed’s ball too!