PGA Championship: Sportsmanship from Rory McIlroy after his ball was stepped on

Rory McIlroy explained how he had the integrity of the game at the forefront of his thoughts as he dealt with a bizarre incident early in his second round at the PGA Championship.

McIlroy made the desired start on Friday with a birdie at the opening hole, but a wayward tee shot to the short third nestled in a bad lie in the greenside rough, and his ball was stepped on by one of the search party.

The two-time PGA champion was entitled to replace his ball without penalty, but he was “uncomfortable” having dropped it into a more favourable lie which gave him a significantly better chance of getting up and down to save par.

McIlroy then sportingly pushed his ball deeper into the thick grass in an attempt to replicate the original lie, but he could not get his pitch within 20 feet of the flag and two-putted for bogey.

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“I just wouldn’t have felt comfortable,” he said. “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.

“At the end of the day, 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.

“I would have felt pretty wrong if I had of taken a lie that was maybe a little better than what it was previously.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the fifth before reeling off four consecutive birdies from the seventh, although he got into big trouble after a pulled drive into a terrible lie at the 12th and he compounded the error by three-putting from seven putt to run up a triple-bogey seven.

With little margin for error to make the cut, McIlroy gave himself a buffer with a birdie at the 16th, and he parred in to card a 69 and stay at one under for the tournament – seven shots behind halfway leader, Li Haotong.

“I hit some loose shots on three, and and five, but what turned it around was a good drive on seven and made birdie from there, and then made birdie on 8 and 9, the two toughest holes on the course. That gave me a nice little bit of momentum going into the back nine.

“Then I played the 10th hole well, and was feeling good at three under through 11, and then that seven just stopped me in my tracks a bit. From there, when you’re three under par, especially with the way the leaderboard is looking, you’re thinking, okay, get another couple and you’re right into this tournament going into the weekend.

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