The PGA Tour’s signature competition, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (20 million U.S. dollars in total prize money), took place at Pebble Beach Golf Links near San Francisco on Sunday (Korea time). McIlroy’s tee shot went off the fairway and fell down a tree on the left side. When he was unable to hit the ball, he declared “unplayable,” took one penalty shot and pulled the ball out right back for his third shot. The ball came all the way to the green, and successfully put the ball on the green with his fourth shot. After that, he made a two-putt and recorded a bogey. It seemed that he had not made a big mistake up until then. However, he failed to follow the rules that were changed during the drop process, and thus received two additional penalties, resulting in a triple bogey in the final performance. McIlroy, who was competing for the top spot, was quickly pushed to the middle position.
From 2023, the new rules require a random reference point to be set in an imaginary immediate room that connects the hole and the point where the ball was placed in an unplayable situation, and then drop the ball only from that line. If you violate the rules, you will be punished.
The difference from the previous rule is the drop within one club on the line after setting an arbitrary reference point. In other words, in the past, if you came out immediately and set the reference point, you could drop at any point within a club. McIlroy did not think of the changed regulations and dropped within one club in the existing way, and for that reason, he received an additional two penalties.
McIlroy admitted his mistake after the game, saying, “I declared the unplayable because I couldn’t hit the ball on the seventh hole,” adding, “The rules changed in January 2023, but I forgot about that and made a mistake to drop according to the old rules.”
Golf rules are being revised little by little every four years. Some rules have been changed in 2023, and one of them is remedy in penalty areas and in situations where there is no play. The U.K. R&A and the U.S. Golf Association, which set golf rules, have revised some regulations to simplify specific procedures. Players must each be aware of the new rules, but if they are confused like McIlroy, they cannot avoid losses.
McIlroy, who started play from Hole 10 in the Spieglas course, reduced his pars by two at nine holes in the first half of the day, and added birdies at Nos. 1, 3, 4 and 5 in the second half to take the lead. However, he made his first bogey at Hole 6 (par 4) and made a drop mistake following a tee shot at Hole 7, and he lost three pars all at once. McIlroy, who also made bogey at Hole 8 (par 4), had the worst day of his career, missing five pars in just three holes. Consequently, he was satisfied with his ranking in the first round by tying for 39th.
McIlroy, who started the new season in January, started the DP World Tour instead of the PGA Tour. He started the new season on a high note by winning the runner-up and the title at two consecutive tournaments held in Dubai. He displayed good performance even before the latest event, but lost five pars at three holes on the day, and ended up a little further away from the competition.
Overall, however, his performance was not bad. His tee shot had an average distance of 318.5 yards and a fairway accuracy rate of 71.43 percent. His green accuracy rate was 77.78 percent, maintaining its level. He had a rather high number of putts at 31, but he was impeccable except for mistakes made at three holes.