Jordan Spieth and Viktor Hovland stay silent as Rory McIlroy addresses drop controversy at The Players

At The Players Championship, following two rules debates with Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Viktor Hovland remained silent in front of the media.

Global No. 2 Alongside Xander Schauffele and Wyndham Clark, McIlroy shot 65 to lead golf’s unofficial fifth major, but two contentious drops overshadowed his stellar opening round.

The first occurred on hole 18, which was McIlroy’s ninth hole of the day. Spieth and Hovland seemed doubtful that McIlroy’s tee shot would cross land instead of the water.

More drama would come at the 7th hole, but in the end, they allowed the four-time major winner to drop 200 yards up the fairway rather than from the tee box.

McIlory was confident that his ball bounced above the red hazard line before getting wet, giving him a more advantageous drop, even though he found water off the tee once more.

Ryder Cup players Hovland and Spieth questioned whether this was accurate, given that the ball appeared to bounce below the red line according to several eyewitness reports.

Once more, the players were informed that their consensus was all that mattered in the absence of any video evidence, and McIlroy was permitted to carry out his initial drop.

A small amount of TV footage seems to support McIlroy: from one viewpoint across the fairway, it appears that the ball bounces to eye level, which is unlikely if it lands on the steep slope beneath the red line.

Hovland and Spieth left the scoring tent immediately following their rounds, refusing to comment on the matter, while the Northern Irishman fielded numerous questions from the media regarding the two incidents.

“I believe Jordan was just trying to make sure that I was doing the right thing,” McIlroy stated.

Viktor Hovland, Jordan Spieth, and Rory McIlroy talk about McIlroy’s drop at No. 7.

Rory moves from solo leader to T2 with a double bogey. dkV6a5Q22W –

— March 14, 2024, PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR)
“I thought my ball had crossed over at the point where I was sort of dropping it. You know why it’s so difficult—there was no TV proof.

“I was, if anything, being cautious about it. In the end, I believe that we’re all attempting to safeguard both the field and ourselves.

“I guess I started to doubt myself a little bit, even though I was adamant. “Well, did I really see what I thought I saw?” I asked myself. On television, it’s a little bit of a blind spot. We had a view from the tee, which I believe was the best view.”

Prior to the second round at TPC Sawgrass on Friday, McIlroy stated that he had a clear conscience.

The 34-year-old went on, “I feel at ease. That, in my opinion, is the most crucial factor.

Since I consider myself to be among the most ethical players here, I’ll be troubled by any guilt I may have for the duration of the competition.

“I firmly believe in the concept of karma, and I have the feeling that bad deeds will eventually bite you in the rear.

“It goes without saying that I follow the law, play by the rules, and try to do the right thing. I believe that those two drops are what I clearly did.”

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