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Golf Channel Brilliantly Recreate Rory McIlroy Dropgate Controversy

Golf Channel Brilliantly Recreate Rory McIlroy Dropgate Controversy
Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington Updated
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Rory McIlroy came out of Day One of the Players' Championship in a tie for the lead after a stellar 65 at Sawgrass.

The Northern Irishman birdied four of his first six holes to land on -7 alongside Xander Schauffele and Wyndham Clark in T1 at the end of play in the first round.


Despite his excellent play on Thursday, however, McIlroy ran into issues on both the 18th hole (his ninth) and the seventh, as his ball landed in the water on both holes.

Having teed off on the 10th hole, the incident came towards the end of McIlroy's round and led to a lengthy debate between him and playing partners Viktor Hovland and Jordan Spieth as to where the ball should be dropped.

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Rory McIlroy takes contentious drop en route to first-round lead at TPC Sawgrass

Rory McIlroy's wayward tee shot at the seventh hole found the water - the second time in his round he had done so.

However, the ball had clearly bounced before hitting the water, and it was initially unclear which side of the "red line" it had bounced on. (The red line is painted on the course to signify when a tee shot has entered play)

As McIlroy attempted to find the right spot from which to drop his ball, a lengthy debate broke out.



McIlroy asserted that his tee shot had bounced over the red line, meaning that he could drop from near the site where his ball had entered the water, rather than back at the tee box.

The TV cameras on course provided little help, with even the slo-mo cameras failing to definitively show where exactly the ball had bounced.

Hovland and Spieth appeared adamant that McIlroy had not landed his shot past the red line. Hovland went on to declare McIlroy's claim that the ball had landed on the right side of the red line "speculative."


There were no TV cameras in position to camera the incident, nor were there any PGA Tour officials present near the spot to properly adjudicate.

The microphones on the course picked up the debate between Hovland, Spieth and McIlroy as they endeavoured to find the right drop point. Spieth would claim that "everyone" he had asked about the tee shot had said that it had come up short of the red line.

Hovland: I'm just not sure that it crossed the line.

McIlroy: I'm pretty comfortable that I saw it above the red line.

Hovland: I thought it was really close, I can't say either way. It was very speculative, it was very close...

Spieth: You're saying the ball bounced - but was it above the red line or not?

McIlroy: I'm pretty comfortable that I thought that it did.

Spieth: Everyone that I'm hearing that had eyes on it...which, again, is not the matter...is saying they're 100% certain it landed below the line. But, if you saw it...

McIlroy: Who are you talking about?

Spieth: The TV, all these guys. They're saying it on their eyes. They didn't get it on camera but they're saying what they saw which, again, doesn't mean anything, it's what you guys think.

A course marshall arrived shortly thereafter, but the debate as to where McIlroy should take his drop shot persevered. With a lack of conclusive evidence either way from the TV cameras in operation, he was ultimately told to trust his own read of the shot.

McIlroy took his drop a fair distance back from where the ball had entered the water and would double bogey the hole en route to his 65.

Speaking after concluding his round, McIlroy said of the incident:

I think Jordan was just trying to make sure that I was doing the right thing. I mean, I was pretty sure that my ball had crossed where I was sort of dropping it. It's so hard, right, because there was no TV evidence. I was adamant. But I think, again, he was just trying to make sure that I was going to do the right thing.

If anything, I was being conservative with it. I think at the end of the day we're all trying to protect ourselves, protect the field, as well. I wouldn't say it was needless. I think he was just trying to make sure that what happened was the right thing.

Interestingly Golf Channel's Jordan Wagner headed to the site of the incident and tried to recreate McIlroy's shot yesterday evening. While it didn't provide conclusive evidence of where McIlroy's shot landed, it did prove how strange a sport can be.

Rory McIlroy tees off at 5:40pm Irish time on Friday, once again alongside Hovland and Spieth

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