Rory McIlroy may have absolved his partner’s caddie of any wrongdoing in the Ulsterman’s "stupid" two-shot rules mishap in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, but some of experienced looper Dave Renwick’s brethren believe the bagman should have stayed out of the entire situation.
Here’s a quick recap of the goings-on that may have gotten lost amid Phil Mickelson’s own "crazy s**t" violation and the hype surrounding Peyton Manning’s surgical dissection of Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Following the third round of last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, Ricardo Gonzalez’ caddie informed McIlroy that he committed a foul on the second hole when he improperly took relief from a walkway. McIlroy, who called the rule "stupid" and apparently had no problem with Renwick waiting until after the round to tell him of his error, was initially shocked by the allegation. After reviewing the spot of the gaffe with European Tour chief referee John Paramor, however, he agreed his left foot had to be on the line, according to James Corrigan.
"I was so wrapped up in the shot I didn’t notice," McIlroy told Corrigan on Saturday after signing for a 2-under 70 instead of a 68 and arguing that his faux pas earned him no advantage. "There are many stupid rules in golf and this is one of them ... I dropped it into a bad lie. If I’d noticed my foot was on the line I could have dropped it again."
Given the attention rules breaches have garnered over the past year or so, Golfweek’s Alex Miceli took the pulse of players and caddies competing in the PGA Tour’s Humana Challenge in La Quinta, Calif., and heard some interesting responses to the brouhaha in the Emirates. The overriding opinion from an extremely small survey revealed questions about if and when a caddie should get involved with another golfers’ business.
Damon Green, who has played on the Champions Tour and works for Zach Johnson, believes a caddie should stay out of any rules flaps.
"I'd have to tell my player probably and let him deal with it right at the moment," Green told Miceli. "I don't think it's our job to get involved in the rules, really."
For Jay Haas Jr., brother Bill Haas’ caddie, it’s a matter of timing.
"I wouldn't wait until the 18th hole, and if I waited until the 18th hole, I don't know that I would say anything at that point," Haas Jr. said.
Veteran tour player Jerry Kelly, who finished T13 at the Humana, was a tad more forthright in his disdain for how the whole thing went down.
"Waiting until the 18th really sucks," Kelly said. "But if you see something, you say it then or maybe you don't say it. If you don't have the [guts] to say it right away and help the person out, then it's -- it's almost more detrimental.
"I don't know," Kelly added about Renwick’s contention that he was too far away from McIlroy to point it out his misstep immediately after it occurred. "But Davey thought he was doing the right thing by saying something; just said it at the wrong time."
However the situation shakes out, at least there was no dime-dropping from the TV viewership, which was of little consolation to McIlroy, who came in one shot back of eventual winner Pablo Larrazába
"I guess I'm standing here thinking that I played one shot less than anyone else this week, but ended up not getting a trophy," he told reporters after finishing tied with Mickelson at 13-under.
As for those wondering whether McIlroy was one of many big-name golf pros who could use a seminar in the regulations that govern their game, the two-time major champion assured them he was more sloppy than ignorant on Saturday.
"I knew the rule. I knew you have to take full relief," he said. "I just didn't know where my foot was."