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Page last updated at 01:25 GMT, Saturday, 11 April 2009 02:25 UK

McIlroy avoids Masters punishment

Rory McIlroy

Northern Ireland golfer Rory McIlroy explains his actions in the Masters.

Rory McIlroy escaped disqualification at the Masters following a lengthy inquiry into a possible rules breach.

Making his debut appearance at Augusta, the 19-year-old Northern Irishman appeared to kick sand after failing to get out of a bunker by the 18th green.

But he was eventually cleared to play in the final two rounds after officials decided not to penalise him.

McIlroy had stormed to sixth place with three holes to play but then dropped five shots to finish down in 42nd spot.

He four-putted the short 16th for a double bogey five and then ran up a triple-bogey seven on the 18th to survive the halfway cut with nothing to spare at one over par.

McIlroy had finished his round at 1615 local time but at around 2040 returned to the club at the request of officials and was shown television coverage of him in a bunker by the 18th green.

Eventually, over four hours later, a statement was issued saying that he was not being penalised.

Augusta National competitions committee chairman Fred Ridley said: "A question was raised regarding Rory McIlroy's actions.

"The Rules of Golf (13-4) prohibit a player from testing the condition of a hazard before playing a stroke in the hazard.

"The decisions interpreting the rule state that kicking the ground in the hazard constitutes testing the condition.

Conditions are getting tougher - McDowell

"However, the rules allow the player to smooth sand or soil in the hazard after making a stroke provided that, with regard to his next stroke, nothing is done to improve the position or lie of his ball, the area of his intended swing, his line of play or a reasonable extension of his line beyond the hole or the area in which he is drop or place a ball.

"At the request of the committee McIlroy returned to the club at approximately 8.40pm, met with the committee and reviewed the CBS tape.

"Based on the tape and Mr McIlroy's statement of what had taken place after he played the shot it was determined that no violation of the rules had occurred."

After going out in 34, an eagle on 13 moved McIlroy to four under but a four-putt double bogey at 16 was followed by a triple-bogey seven at the last.

However, the alleged rules infringement was examined by Masters officials with evidence suggesting he had transgressed by testing the conditions.

His one-over total saw him make the cut mark as he was 10 behind joint leaders Chad Campbell and Kenny Penny.

Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington ended two under with rounds of 73.

McDowell was five under after the 13th but dropped shots on 14, 15 and 17 to slip back into the pack.

"I am inexperienced here, this is only my second Masters, and this course really plays difficult in the wind. It really gusts around," he told BBC Sport.

Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell was five under par standing on the 14th tee

"You are trying to get some sort of handle on it and just have to go with what you feel, and go for it.

"I am looking forward to the weekend. I feel great about my game, I am driving it good, hitting it great on the greens. This course is getting tougher and tougher and you just have to stay patient and enjoy it."

McDowell birdied the long 2nd and then made amends for a bogey on the 7th by picking up more strokes at the 9th and 10th to move to five under.

After saving par on the next from six feet, he pulled his tee shot to the 12th, sent his chip 10 feet past and missed coming back.

A birdie at the long 13th moved him back to five under but a bogey at 14 was followed by a six at the 15th after he was way too long with his second shot and needed two chips to reach the fringe.

Another dropped shot followed on the penultimate hole as he signed for his 73.

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see also
Masters photos
10 Apr 09 |  Golf
Campbell storms into Masters lead
10 Apr 09 |  Golf
Augusta opener pleases Harrington
10 Apr 09 |  Golf
Masters day one as it happened
09 Apr 09 |  Golf
Augusta tee-off times
11 Apr 09 |  Golf
Woods ready for Masters campaign
09 Apr 09 |  Golf
Relaxed McIlroy ready for Masters
08 Apr 09 |  Golf
Player to make final Augusta bow
06 Apr 09 |  Golf
Woods confident of Masters glory
08 Apr 09 |  Golf
Montgomerie criticised by Woosnam
07 Apr 09 |  Golf
Masters 2009 - Augusta in bloom
06 Apr 09 |  Golf
Norman set for emotional farewell
06 Apr 09 |  Golf
In-form Casey ready for Masters
06 Apr 09 |  Golf
McIlroy/Harrington clash at Erne
24 Mar 09 |  Golf
McIlroy wins first title in Dubai
01 Feb 09 |  Golf

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