• Alistair Tait

McIlroy exemplifies spirit of golf


Perhaps Rory McIlroy should have a wee conversation with Bryson DeChambeau about the spirt of golf.

He might want to have a chat with Matt Kuchar and a few others too.

McIlroy proved yet again that the spirt of golf is alive and well with his actions on the third hole during the second round of the PGA Championship at Harding Park. A journalist accidentally stepped on his ball during a search. Under Rule 9.6, Ball Lifted or Moved by Outside Influence, the world number three was allowed to place the ball. When he did so, the ball lay in a favourable lie.

That didn’t sit too well with the Northern Irishman. His conscience took over. He pushed the ball deeper into the rough to replicate the lie he guessed the ball had originally been in. He bogeyed the hole, but the dropped shot was worth it as far as Rory was concerned.

“I just wouldn’t have felt ­comfortable. I placed it, and the rule is try to replicate the lie. No one really knew what the lie was, but if everyone is going around looking for it, it ­obviously wasn’t too good. So I placed it, I was like: ‘That just doesn’t look right to me.’ So I just placed it down a little bit.
“Golf is a game of integrity and I never try to get away with anything out there. I’d rather be on the wrong end of the rules rather than on the right end because as golfers, that’s just what we believe.”

Rule 1.2a, Conduct Expected of All Players, is plain and simple on how players should act. It states:

“All players are expected to play in the spirit of the game by: Acting with integrity – for example, by following the Rules, applying all penalties, and being honest in all aspects of play.”

Rory went above and beyond the call of duty during the second round. Indeed, he adhered to a simple creed former R&A Rules Secretary John Glover advocated. Glover, who died aged 71 in 2004, believed golfers should

“Do the right thing. If you don’t know how to do the right thing, then use the rules.”

Rory did the right thing. He’s a credit to the game. As for DeChambeau, the beefed-up American didn’t do himself any favours during the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational when he tried to get relief because there was an ant near his ball. It followed from him trying to claim his ball was in bounds during The Memorial when PGA Tour official Ken Tackett said otherwise.


Kuchar tried to get relief last year during The Memorial when his ball came to rest in a pitch mark that was not his own pitch mark. Kuchar bizarrely said the ball could have hopped up and created a “secondary” pitch mark in the original pitch mark made by another player. It seemed obvious Kuchar was trying it on since he asked for two opinions. Both referees, rightly so, were having none of it.


Thankfully, there are far more McIlroys in our sport than DeChambeaus and Kuchars who try to push the rules to their advantage. There are countless examples of players who’ve called penalties on themselves even though they were the only ones who would have known a rule had been violated.


Fortunately, we also have strong referees who know when a player is taking the proverbial.

There are times when we all feel proud to call golf our sport. McIlroy’s actions during round two at Harding Park is one of those times.

#JustSaying: “Golf requires a few simple rules and regulations to guide the players in the true nature of its sporting appeal. The spirit of the game is its own referee.” Robert Harris, Sixty Years of Golf

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