It would appear that even the game’s elite should make sure they are more knowledgeable about the rules of golf.
Blaming it on sketchy knowledge of Rule 13-2 and the fact his concentration was not the best after a winter break, Rory McIlroy made a mistake that resulted in a two-stroke penalty that cost him a chance to win the Abu Dhubi HSBC Championship last month. He finished one stroke behind Robert Rock. Just off the green on No. 9 in the second round, McIlroy brushed sand just off the edge of the green from his line of play before hitting his chip.
Fellow competitor Luke Donald said, “I don’t think you can do that.”
McIlroy quickly realized his mistake: “Oh yeah, you’re right.”
If the sand had been on the green, there is an exception that would allow the sand to be removed.
If another player had played after McIlroy’s ball was at rest and left sand in his line, in equity he could have brushed off the sand without penalty.
As a reminder, players can not remove dew or frost or mop up casual water from their line of play even if on the green. They also can not remove sand from an area where they are preparing to take a drop.