Rory McIlroy joked that he would autograph a packet of frozen peas after accidentally hitting his father on the leg after an errant shot on day one of the 85th Masters.
Gerry McIlroy was following his four-time major winning son when McIlroy hit him on the back of his leg at the seventh hole at Augusta National. McIlroy was playing ‘army golf’ down the seventh, first hitting trees left of the fairway and then with his second heading right forcing him to immediately call: ‘Fore, right”.
A number of spectators hearing the call quickly raised their hands to their head but a male spectator, wearing shorts, can be clearly seen ignoring the warning and continued on walking only to be hit on the back of the leg. He turned to look at the back of his calf and seeing no injury, continued on walking as McIlroy’s ball rolled some 20-feet back down the slope. The spectator as it turned out was Gerry McIlroy.
McIlroy was quizzed about the incident after his round of a disappointing four-over par 76 – his highest first round score at the Masters.
“I think he was okay as he didn’t limp away,” said McIlroy smiling. “He walked away pretty swiftly, so that was all right. In fairness, I was trying to turn it over as it was a perfect shot but it went dead straight.”
McIlroy was asked how he ascertained it was his father he had hit: “I knew my dad down there as I was aiming at him, so probably 30 seconds before I hit the shot,” he admitted.
When McIlroy arrived at the scene his father was behind the green among the spectators, though a reporter following the group remarked to McIlroy that his father had commented he was going to demand an autographed glove as seems to be the custom when a player hits a spectator.
“Yeah, I don’t know,” McIlroy laughed. “He’s seen me sign plenty of stuff over the years, so I think that’s the least of his worries. I think he just needs to go and put some ice on it – maybe I’ll autograph a bag of frozen peas for him.”
The incident led to now list a number of incidents where McIlroy’s hit spectators during his playing career.:
2012 Open Championship – Royal Lytham & St. Annes
A 16-year-old Bristol boy’s head required bandaging after a wild McIlroy shot off the 15th tee that ricocheted OB near a burger stand at the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Anne’s
To his credit, McIlroy sought out the boy’s name as Jason Blue and established he was sleeping in a tent with the then World No. 2 offering to provide a hotel room and “some cash” – around £100 he then said – in addition to the signed glove he had given him at the time.
“I thought it was the least I could do when he’s got a massive gash in the side of his head,” McIlroy stated. “I put him and his mate up for the night and actually tried to get them into the hotel for a couple more nights, but they were just fully booked.”
2014 – Tour Championship – East Lake
McIlroy’s tee shot at the 14th hole on day two of the 2014 PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship finds trees right of the fairway and then bizarrely lands in the pocket of a male spectator. McIlroy got a free drop and would go on to make par. He admits at the time hitting a shot at a Scottish Open that went up a man’s trousers.
2019 Open Championship – Royal Portrush
McIlroy sent his opening tee shot in a first Open Championship on Northern Ireland soil since 1951, left hitting 34-year-old Anna McKelvey in the stomach and smashing the screen of her mobile phone. She was not seriously injured but McIlroy’s ball was OB albeit by a few feet on route. McIlroy takes an ‘8’ down the first on route to a 79 and would miss the cut by a shot.
2021 – WGC – Dell Match-Play Championship
McIlroy sends his tee-shot over a fence and into a neighbour’s swimming pool at the 5th hole during his opening round match against Ian Poulter at the WGC – Dell Match-Play Championship in Austin, Texas. No one was injured in the incident!