Days After Triggering a Controversial Debate, Rory McIlroy at Risk of Being Officially Scrutinized for His Actions

Published 06/24/2023, 7:30 AM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

It has been days since the 2023 US Open ended, but the chaos surrounding the event is far from simmering down. One golfer who is at the center of it all is World No. 3 Rory McIlroy, who missed the chance to nab his fifth major by just one stroke.

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Last Sunday, during the final round, the 34-year-old became the center of controversy following an unexpected embedded-ball incident. Now, per reports, McIlroy may soon come under inspection for the same. So what went down at the LACC during McIlroy’s last round? Why has it sparked a debate in the golf community? Let’s jump in to find out more!

Rory McIlroy sparks an online debate with his actions at the LACC

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Just days ago, at the LACC, Rory McIlroy came very close to ending his major drought. As the heated battle between McIlroy and eventual winner Wyndham Clark raged on, the golfer ended up making a miscalculated wedge on the par-5 14th hole.

The golfer’s shot at the 612-yard par-5 vanished from sight after landing, resulting in him frantically looking for his ball in the fescue above the bunker. McIlroy’s Taylormade was subsequently discovered embedded in the grass just above the bunker’s edge. Next, a rules official at the venue even gave him a free drop! After stamping the ball’s pitch mark with a tee and identifying it, the golfer was allowed to move the ball one club length closer to the hole. Many took issue with what McIlroy did next, including a YouTuber called Big Boy Pants Golf.

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On Friday, the internet personality took to the social media platform to reveal an alleged conversation between him and a USGA official regarding the entire fiasco. “When I read the rules in terms of 16.3 [the embedded golf ball rule], it says the reference point is right behind the ball and you get a club length from there,” he inquired. “So, I don’t understand from watching the video footage how Rory was able to almost be on the fringe of the putting green.”

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I think it was ultimately an incorrect drop at the direction of a referee,” the USGA representative that he was presumably talking to could be heard replying. Golf fans now await to see if any action will be taken against McIlroy down the road.

What does the USGA’s embedded golf ball rule say?

During the US Open’s final round, Rory McIlroy was allowed free relief after his ball was identified as being embedded. Rule 16.3 of the USGA offers respite for balls immersed anywhere in the “general area,” except for sand. If embedded in the sand, the golfer either has to play it as it is or deem it unplayable, leading to a penalty stroke. However, the rule official decided that the 4-time major winner’s ball wasn’t in the sand but above the bunker instead.

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USA Today via Reuters

The US Open wasn’t the only major in 2023 that saw a player receive a free drop. In May’s PGA Championship, golfers Viktor Hovland and Corey Conners also got relief after their fairway bunker shots got lodged in the edge of the 16th hole at Oak Hill.

As for McIlroy, the free relief didn’t do any wonders for him. He eventually made a bogey, falling behind Wyndham Clark, who went on to lift the trophy.

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Watch This Story: ‘Slip Up or Make a Mistake’: Rory McIlroy His Mindset During the Heartbreaking Match 

Do you think the free relief awarded to Rory McIlroy during the US Open was unfair? Tell us in the comments!

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Written by:

Abantika Ghosh

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One take at a time

Abantika is a fresh writer at EssentiallySports who was chosen in the recent round of ‘ES Draft’ for her strong passion for golf writing. Even in her early days, Abantika has displayed an impressive ability to cover golf with gripping and insightful stories backed by thorough research. Her inspiration comes from the words of the legendary golfer and flag-bearer of the PGA Tour, Rory McIlroy: "As long as I keep enjoying my golf, then hopefully I'll be able to play well," which motivates her to continue writing engaging pieces.
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Edited by:

Sheldon Pereira

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