Rory McIlroy’s U.S. Open hopes saved by wild embedded-ball relief ruling

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland gets relief from an imbedded ball on the 14th green during the final round of the 123rd U.S. Open Championship at The Los Angeles Country Club on June 18, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

Rory McIlroy was about to have a lot bigger problems on U.S. Open Sunday than a cold putter.

One shot back of Wydham Clark at 10 under after 13 holes of the final round at Los Angeles Country Club, McIlroy put his tee shot on 14 in the left rough, almost forcing his hand to lay up on the par-5.

This is where things get interesting.

After laying up to 124 yards in the left fairway, McIlroy dumped his third into the front right green side bunker — or so he and everyone else thought.

When the World No. 3 arrived at the green, the only ball in the bunker was that of playing partner Scottie Scheffler. McIlroy started frantically searching with help from Scheffler and their caddies the deep fescue on the bank of the bunker.

It didn’t take long to figure out what had happened.

The ball had gone straight through ground and embeded in the bank.

Eventually with the help of a USGA rules official, McIlroy, crouching along the edge of the bunker wall, found, indenified, marked and pulled his ball out from underneath the fescue grass roots. Amazingly he was going to get a free drop.