He may have earned a lot of money in the Middle East since he turned professional, but a big part of Rory McIlroy must hate the oil rich region as well.
Just two years ago a two shot penalty cost the Ulsterman dearly when he missed out on the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title by just one shot as England’s Robert Rock scored a surprise win.
The misdemeanor that time, when Rory inadvertently brushed sand away in front of his ball but off the ground, came in the second round and was witnessed by the likes of Ryder Cup star Luke Donald.
Rory promised to learn the rules after the costly error, a promise he seems to have ignored judging by his latest brush with the law in the same country and the same ultimate fate.
This time it was a wrong drop from a pathway on the second hole of Saturday’s third round that cost McIlroy a two shot penalty. This time, he again played one shot less than the rest of the field over the four days but still lost out to Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal by a single stroke.
And this time he referred to golf’s “stupid rules” and claimed he had better things to be doing that trying to keep up with them after another player’s caddy did him a favor and highlighted the misdemeanor.
Scotsman Dave Renwick, on Ricardo Gonzalez’s bag, actually did McIlroy a good deed by informing him of the probable infringement before he signed for his card on Saturday. Had he signed an incorrect card, McIlroy would have been disqualified on the spot and would have missed out on the near $300,000 check that came with his tied second finish on Sunday.
But still the debate rages in many golf clubs over McIlroy’s failure — and that of his caddy -- to know the rules, his disregard for them as stupid and Renwick’s decision not to tell him until after the round in case the news wrecked Rory’s mindset at a time when he was in real contention.
One American caddy, a man with the very Irish name of Brian Smith, has even suggested that Renwick should have alerted McIlroy at the time of the incident.
Renwick still thinks he was right to act as he did and even left a note explaining his actions in McIlroy’s locker on Sunday morning.
The Scottish caddie said on Monday, “I couldn’t have gone to sleep knowing that I hadn’t said anything. I put a letter, a nice short one, on his locker saying that I’m sure he would appreciate what I did was in good faith.”
Significantly, Renwick added, “If I hadn’t said anything and Rory had won the tournament by a shot, that wouldn’t have been right and I couldn’t have lived with myself. I feel I did the right thing and if I could have stopped him before he hit the shot I would have. But I was fully 40 yards away at the time.”
No matter what Smith thinks, we really can’t blame Renwick for any of this latest mess. He did what he thought was best for Rory and what he thought was right.
But we can ask when Rory, like Tiger Woods, is going to take a little time to study the rules of golf after discovering once again that a little knowledge is indeed a dangerous thing -- particularly in Abu Dhabi.