Going to bed Sunday night, Rory McIlroy felt uneasy about what had transpired at the Farmers Insurance Open.
In the third round, McIlroy took relief from what he believed was an embedded ball in the right rough on the 18th hole. Only later did he learn there was video evidence that showed his ball had initially bounced, making it unlikely that the ball had actually broken ground. In a statement, the PGA Tour had called McIlroy’s scenario and the controversial ruling that Patrick Reed received a day earlier “virtually the same,” and that both players had proceeded properly with the information they’d had at the time.
“On my life that ball of mine was plugged, it was in its own pitch mark,” McIlroy said Sunday night at Torrey Pines, “so I took relief.”
Still, after being presented with the video evidence, McIlroy was restless: Was his ball truly plugged?
“I just started to doubt myself a little bit, which is not like me,” he said. “But I was convinced that it was an embedded ball.”
Relief came Monday morning. That’s when the Tour informed McIlroy that they’d received an email from a volunteer who said that he’d accidentally stepped on McIlroy's ball in the rough.
“The volunteer said something like, I’m so sorry that Rory is being dragged into this scenario, but I didn’t tell him that I actually stood on his ball to find it,” McIlroy said.
“I at least felt better about my actions knowing I did the right thing, that I did take relief for a ball that was embedded or stepped on,” he added. “So it was nice that that came to light, because I was questioning myself on Sunday a little bit. It’s funny how these things all work out at the end.”