McIlroy learns volunteer stepped on ball that was plugged

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed each took relief from an embedded ball after it hopped in the rough last week at Torrey Pines. Turns out there was one difference.

McIlroy said Wednesday the PGA Tour informed him that a volunteer had stepped on his golf ball to the right of the 18th fairway during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open.

“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,” McIlroy 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.”

Reed took relief from an embedded ball to the left of the 10th green. He removed the ball to check, set it down about 8 feet away and then called a rules official to make sure it broke the plane of the soil. Reed was not aware that the ball bounced before landing, which reduces the likelihood of it being embedded.

The rules allow him to proceed as if it were plugged because the volunteer told him she didn’t see it bounce and he had reason to conclude it was embedded.

McIlroy said he started to question whether he had done the right thing after seeing video of his ball bouncing and felt better upon hearing that the volunteer found the ball by stepping on it. The tour confirmed information from the volunteer.

Had he known the ball had been stepped on, McIlroy would have been allowed to place the ball. Under the relief from an embedded ball, he had to drop it from knee-length height.

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