Rory McIlroy was 6-under through 14 holes and cruising at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
But he quickly stumbled on the back nine, as he made three bogeys in a row. That completely derailed his entire round.
Yet, it would only get worse for the Northern Irishman. His bogey six on Spyglass Hill’s par-5 7th turned into a triple-bogey eight after the round. He went from shooting a 3-under 69 to a 1-under 71.
McIlroy was given a two-stroke penalty for taking an illegal drop. He had to take an unplayable lie because of a poor tee shot, which is why he had to take a drop in the first place.
Rules official Mark Dusbabek explained what happened and why it was a penalty.
“Back of the line relief, you still go back of the line in line with the flagstick from where the ball is,” Dusbabek said on the Golf Channel broadcast.
“However, you have to drop it on that line, and it can roll in any direction, even forward one club length. “Rory from that line dropped one club length to the side, which makes it a wrong place and would be a two-stroke penalty.”
PGA Tour chief referee Steven Cox delivered the tough news to McIlroy after his round. The 4-time major winner owned up to it and was professional about the ordeal.
After his round, McIlroy spoke to the media. In doing so, he gave his side of what happened on the par-5 7th and explained how he did not realize he dropped his ball incorrectly.
“Unbeknownst to me, the rule changed in January 2023, where you used to be able to come back online and take a club length on either side,” McIlroy said. “That was changed in 2019 to be able to do that. I wasn’t aware that that rule was changed again in 2023. I took a drop, thinking of the 2019 rules when everything changed, not knowing that the rule was changed again in 2023, so I got a two-stroke penalty there.”
It seems this was a harmless mistake from McIlroy, but it does derail his round even more. After such a strong start, he did not need that ending for his confidence moving forward. He will play alongside Ludvig Åberg on Pebble Beach Golf Links for Friday’s round.
Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. For more golf coverage, be sure to follow us @_PlayingThrough on all major social platforms. You can also follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports.