Rory McIlroy’s missing 3-wood resurfaces at Liberty National in mysterious fashion

rory mcilroy's 3-wood

Rory McIlroy's 3-wood, missing since the final round of The Northern Trust Open, was recovered at Liberty National on Sunday.

Lee Smith

If the whereabouts of Rory McIlroy’s missing 3-wood has been keeping you up at night, we come bearing good news.

On Sunday morning — nearly a week after McIlroy launched his 15-degree TaylorMade SIM2 Max into the trees by Liberty National’s 9th tee — the club reappeared, concluding a vigorous, five-day search-and-rescue mission.

The 3-wood’s recovery was nearly as mysterious as its disappearance.

liberty national
Where is Rory McIlroy’s missing 3-wood? Good question, says Liberty National
By: Alan Bastable

In the wake of the The Northern Trust Open’s weather-delayed finish, Liberty National staffers, members, guests and even a few treasure-hunting interlopers spent days canvassing the area where the club had gone missing — to no avail. Then, last Sunday, as grounds-crew member Michael Bongiovanni was making his morning rounds, he spotted more or less in plain sight a club in a bush just off the 9th tee. Only it wasn’t just any club, it appeared to be the club.

How had previous search parties missed it? They hadn’t, at least not in that location. The night before Bongiovanni’s discovery a storm had blown through Liberty National, which is presumed to have jostled the club free from a higher, more cloaked perch in the trees.

“The story we got as to where it was sitting, there’s no way that somebody wouldn’t have seen it earlier,” Lee Smith, the club’s general manager, told “It was almost just laying on the ground.

“It was straight to the right of the tee. So we’re thinking he launched it over the trees that are relatively close and relatively low. Then it got stuck in a [taller] tree and the storm just blew it down.”

liberty national
McIlroy’s club disappeared in — then reappeared by — the trees to the right of 9th tee box. google maps

And Bongiovanni was there to scoop it up.

Smith needed to see the 3-wood to believe it. Earlier in the week, he had received multiple voicemails from club-hunters who had purported to have solved the mystery. Among the discoveries was a shaft with no clubhead on it. But none of the findings was the club in question.   

With the SIM2 in hand earlier this week, Smith exchanged text messages with McIlroy’s caddie and manager, who quickly authenticated the club.  

Now, only one question remains: what to do with it?

On Tuesday, Smith and his colleagues were already surveying the clubhouse walls for an appropriate place to mount the memento.

“We’re going to do everything we can to keep it out of a case while also securing it,” Smith said. “We’d like people to be able to touch and feel it, because it really has taken on a life of its own.”

Alan Bastable Editor

As’s executive editor, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and highly trafficked news and service sites. He wears many hats — editing, writing, ideating, developing, daydreaming of one day breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Before grabbing the reins at, he was the features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and foursome of kids.