It was the most awkward lie of the day for Rory McIlroy.
The four-time major winner’s tee shot on the par-3 13th hole at the World Tour Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Thursday somehow landed in the lap of a female spectator who was to the right of the green.
Amid much laughter, the rest of the spectators retreated, but the woman remained in place, with her feet crossed and the ball lodged between her legs.
McIlroy went up to her, scratched his head then feigned a shot, to the amusement of the gallery. McIlroy stood back and said: “Right, ermm. Referee!”
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The match referee arrived and gave McIlroy a drop, saying: “Basically, it’s the spot underneath her.”
“You can get up,” a laughing McIlroy said to the woman, who handed him the ball, stood up, picked up her bag and returned to the gallery to cheers.
McIlroy chipped onto the green and wound up with a bogey. McIlroy, who already had clinched the top spot in the DP World Tour rankings entering the season’s final event, shot a 1-under 71 in the first round and is 4 shots behind co-leaders Nicolai Hojgaard, Matthieu Pavon and Julien Guerrier.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.