Rory McIlroy involved in bizarre incident with fan — and remote-controlled ball

Rory McIlroy throws a remote-controlled ball into the water on the 15th hole at Wilmington Country Club.

PGA Tour Live

Rory McIlroy turned his head back and looked confused. He then got his caddie, Harry Diamond, to take a look. To the right of the 15th green at Wilmington Country Club, in a bunker, was the ball of his playing partner, Scott Stallings. McIlroy’s ball was on the green, to the right of the hole, and about 15 feet away.

But … why was there a third ball on the green?

And why was it … moving?

And … who was that man in the white visor to the right of the green?

“What’s going on here?” analyst Andres Gonzales asked on the PGA Tour Live broadcast. 

All good questions. 

The short answer is this: The day was getting long as the final pairings reached the 15th during Saturday’s third round of the BMW Championship, and a fan had a toy. In a bizarre sequence, McIlroy eventually pieced it all together, too. In order:

— The four-time major winner stepped toward the rogue ball as it was moving toward the hole and hit it with his putter. 

— He glared at the man, who appeared to be operating the ball with a remote control.

— He hit the ball again as it moved back toward the hole. 

— He took two steps toward the ball, tapped it, then reached down and grabbed it with his right hand. 

— In one motion, McIlroy threw the ball into the water short and to the left of the green. 

— The crowd cheered. 

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“Oh it’s going to be hard to control from the water,” analyst Roberto Arguello said on the PGA Tour Live broadcast. 

By this point, Stallings’ caddie, Jon Yarbrough, and Diamond were standing near the fan. An officer eventually escorted him away, though not before he turned to the crowd and flashed his thumbs down, which drew boos.  

After the hole, which Stallings and McIlroy both parred, they laughed as they walked to the 16th tee.  

“Nice throw by Rory,” Arguello said on the broadcast. “For a moment, I thought it was Scott Stallings’ ball moving around and I was confused.” 

“I was too,” Gonzales said. “I thought that Scott had already hit his bunker shot and like, why is Rory so close to the hole.” 

“And then he was hitting the ball,” Arguello said. “What a moment. I was hoping that we would see a security officer come and tackle the fan like we often see at NFL some games. Thankfully he wasn’t a streaker.” 

“Yeah, that’s the good news, right,” Gonzales said.  

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.