RORY MCILROY WAS left to rue the “stupid” rule that cost him two shots at the HSBC Golf Championship but vowed to use the controversy as motivation.
McIlroy goes into the final round in Abu Dhabi three shots off the lead after he was penalised for an incorrect drop on the second hole.
“It gives me an extra bit of motivation,” he said afterwards, “not that winning this tournament isn’t motivation enough.
Stuff like this, it’s sort of stupid. There’s a lot of stupid rules in golf and this is one of them.
The trouble started when McIlroy’s ball came to rest on the gallery crosswalk to the left of the second fairway.
He took a free drop as permitted under the rules but officials found that his foot was on or over the boundary line, he had not taken full relief.
The incident went unnoticed until the end of the round when Ricardo Gonzalez’s caddy alerted McIlroy to a possible infraction before he signed his scorecard.
“If anything it was a disadvantage because I dropped it in a bad lie and didn’t make birdie,” he told EuropeanTour.com. “I hit it to 15 feet and two-putted.
“The thing is if I had realised or if I had known that my foot was on the line, I would have said hold on a minute here, I need to take full relief. It’s a bad lie anyway, drop it again and I might get a better one.
It’s disappointing. I don’t feel like I gained any advantage by my foot being on a bit of white paint.
Scotland’s Craig Lee leads on 12-under-par, two shots clear of the chasing pack led by Phil Mickelson and India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar. McIlroy is a further shot back on nine-under alongside Pablo Larrazabal.
“I guess I’ve just got to try and make up those shots as early as possible tomorrow, try and get off to a fast start. I felt like I hung in there well and had a lot of opportunities on the back nine that I didn’t take.
“It was nice to birdie 18 but it was all sort of in vain so I’ll need to go out there and have a good one tomorrow.”