Rory McIlroy knew about this golf rule that almost cost K.H. Lee, but did you!?

Rory McIlroy displayed good knowledge of the rules of golf during the final round of the CJ Cup on the PGA Tour as K.H. Lee wasn't sure what to do.

Ben Smith's picture
Mon, 24 Oct 2022
Rory McIlroy knew about this golf rule that almost cost K.H. Lee, but did you!?

Rory McIlroy displayed good knowledge of the rules of golf on Sunday at the CJ Cup on the PGA Tour

The Northern Irishman, 33, was coming down the stretch in search of returning to the top of the world golf rankings when this happened.

He was playing alongside K.H. Lee and Kurt Kitayama.

Related: Rory McIlroy went straight to his good luck charm after winning

The moment in question came when McIlroy held a two-stroke lead over Kitayama and a three-shot advantage over Lee. 

They were on the par-4 16th hole at Congaree Golf Club and Lee had only 76 yards into the green.  

Lee's golf ball had come to rest a matter of inches away from a sandy divot in the fairway. There was a few grains of sand on or near his ball, apparently. 

He looked a bit perplexed and gestured to McIlroy for some advice and guidance. 

McIlroy was on a mission and was marching up the fairway trying to get a closer look at the green after he missed his tee shot left and needed to navigate his second below and round a tree. 

Lee wanted to know if he could move the sand. 

"I'm not sure you can [move it]," McIlroy's caddie Harry Diamond informed Lee. 

Related: Rory McIlroy defends "easy target" Harry Diamond

There was a little bit of confusion even in the commentary booth on the Golf Channel broadcast.  

"Off the green I believe you can [move it]," commentator Steve Sands said. 

At this point McIlroy had returned from his scouting mission and said: "I don't think so..." 

Lead analyst Trevor Immelman, who has replaced Sir Nick Faldo after his retirement, agreed: "I don't think you can either... only on the green." 

Related: WITB, Rory McIlroy?

McIlroy then added: "I don't think you can touch sand if it's off the green." 

He was right. 

"Rory's a good rules official now, too, Steve," Immelman said. "He knows everything." 

Related: How much Rory McIlroy won at CJ Cup

Smylie Kaufman, the on-course commentator, said: "I don't really see the sand he was talking about...I know there was a couple of divots."

A short time later in the broadcast, it was confirmed by a Tour rules official Ken Tackett that McIlroy's assumption was right. 

"Rory is correct, you can only brush away sand on the green not anywhere off the putting surface," Sands added. 

Then Immelman chimed with: "So you believed Rory... but not me!" 

McIlroy went on to make birdie on the hole after playing a beautiful shot into the green. Lee made par. 

Related: McIlroy is unquestionably a deserving World No.1, writes Andy Roberts

It has to be said that McIlroy knows only too well about this rule, having previously been on the receiving end of a two-shot penalty in Abu Dhabi ten years ago for doing the same thing Lee wanted to do here. 

McIlroy was a whippersnapper back then and his golf education was coming thick and fast. 

Now he's the one dropping the knowledge bombs

Back then, it was former World No.1 Luke Donald who pointed out McIlroy's error because if he didn't then someone else would have.

"I felt pretty bad about it but as soon as I saw him doing it I knew I had to say something," Donald said at the time. "It's a pretty basic rule, to be honest, and, if I hadn't said something, there are plenty of people who would."

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