McIlroy Reveals Controversial Embedded Ball Was Stepped On

The four-time Major winner said he began to question himself after taking relief for an embedded ball last week

McIlroy Reveals Controversial Embedded Ball Was Stepped On
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The four-time Major winner said that he began to question himself after taking relief for an embedded ball last week

McIlroy Reveals Controversial Embedded Ball Was Stepped On

Rory McIlroy was dragged into a rules controversy at the Farmers Insurance Open after taking a drop for an embedded ball.

A video showed his ball bouncing before coming to rest, prompting some to ask how the ball could have been plugged.

However, Rory has revealed that his ball was actually stepped on by a volunteer, which he only found out on Monday after the PGA Tour received an email.

The four-time Major winner said he was beginning to doubt himself and had a bit of a rough Sunday night after criticisms and questions over the drop.

"So what's came to light is, so on 18, as we were searching for my ball, well it wasn't apparent at the time, but an email was sent to the Tour on Monday saying my ball was stepped on to be found, but the volunteer didn't tell me that on Saturday," he said.

"So that's why I took embedded ball relief, because it was an embedded ball, but I didn't know it had been stepped on at the time.

"So obviously the video came out on Sunday with my ball bouncing and then going in, and at that point I'm like, well, it must have went into its own pitch mark or something, because the ball was obviously plugged.

"Then it came to light on Monday that a volunteer had stepped on it and hadn't told me, and that's why the ball was embedded.

"I went to bed Sunday night sort of questioning whether I had done the right thing after seeing the video.

Related: McIlroy - 'Distance Insights Project a huge waste of money and time'

"And then it's so weird, the Tour got an email on Monday from a volunteer saying that he didn't tell me at the time and he should have, but he stepped on the ball to find it, and I guess at the end of the day I almost took the wrong relief because I should have taken relief for a stepped on ball, which means you can place it instead of drop it.

"At the time I didn't have that information.

"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.

"So it sort 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."

McIlroy, who at the weekend said that the worst thing in golf is to be labeled a cheater, said he began to question himself.

"Yeah, pretty much. I sort of, did I do the right thing? Did I play by the rules? Did I see something that wasn't there?

"It was a bit of a rough Sunday night.

"I just started to doubt myself a little bit, which is not like me.

"But I was convinced that it was an embedded ball.

"Then it's funny, the Tour got an email on Monday that it had been stepped on and 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."

Elliott Heath
Senior Staff Writer

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as three Open Championships including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 4-6. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.


Elliott is currently playing:


Driver: Honma TR20

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

2 iron: Mizuno MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x