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Rory McIlroy makes controversial drop at 2024 Players Championship

Rory McIlroy makes controversial drop at 2024 Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Where did Rory McIlroy’s drive bounce on the seventh hole – above or below the red line that marks the penalty area? That was the question that led to a lengthy discussion between McIlroy, who tugged his drive left at the 452-yard par 4, and his fellow competitors in his threesome, Viktor Hovland and Jordan Spieth.

There was no dispute that McIlroy’s tee shot bounced on land before finishing in the water that lines the entire left side of the hole.

Initially, McIlroy stopped walking and looked as if he intended to make his lateral drop some 300 yards from the green. That is until fans told him his ball had bounced up ahead and he moved considerably forward. When asked after the round if he saw the ball bounce, McIlroy said, “I did, yeah. It was just a matter of whether it was above the line or below, and I thought I saw it pitch above the line.”

At this point, Hovland, who had been involved with a contentious drop debate at this championship two years ago with Daniel Berger at the 16th hole, began questioning the location of McIlroy’s drop. Hovland’s caddie Shay Knight expressed his dismay with where McIlroy was planning to drop.

“I 100 percent disagree,” he said. “They should be dropping back by the turtles (situated near where McIlroy was originally considering dropping).”

McIlroy requested a rules official, who explained the video available was inconclusive.

“We have no evidence, so you guys have to go with what you saw,” said John Mutch, the rules official on the scene. The volunteers on the hole also failed to get a good look at where the ball crossed or landed.

“I’m comfortable that it crossed some land, but I don’t know where it actually pitched. I have no idea,” said Spieth, who entered the chat after Hovland to make sure McIlroy didn’t take a wrong drop.

“I agree,” said McIlroy, who was “pretty certain” his ball landed above the red line and then bounced into the water. “I would say I’m probably dropping it slightly back of where the ball kicked in. I’m sort of trying to split the difference.”

“I think it pitched above the red line, but we’re not certain so I’m trying to be safe,” McIlroy said, adding that he’s “pretty comfortable” with what he saw.

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