By petedirenzo
Friday, April 10, 2009

By Michael BambergerAUGUSTA, Ga. -- For a while, all was well in
Rory's World. The 19-year-old Belfast sensation--next month we can start calling
him a 20-year-old--got his name on the Augusta National leaderboards on Friday
when he went to four under for the tournament after an eagle on the 15th hole. Tiger was
playing in front of him, and McIlroy's mother and father and girlfriend and
agents were positioning themselves in discreet places to cheer
him on. Then, disaster, Masters-style: a four-putt double bogey on the par-3 16th and a triple on the par-4 18th, after two swipes out
of a greenside bunker that you'd never have expected him to find in the first
place. (He smashed his drive.) He seemed like he was having a great
time, playing with Anthony Kim and Ryo Ishikawa, and his name looked right at
home on the leaderboard. But with scores of 72 and 73, this will likely be a
year for learning. Anyway, it's not all bad. He'll be the only teenager playing on the weekend.
*Update, Saturday 10:40 a.m.: On Friday evening in the press center, rumors that McIlroy might be disqualified started circulating. According to the Associated Press, officials reviewed his adventures in the bunker at 18 for a possible violation: "His second shot landed in the bunker on the right side, and McIlroy
left it there with his third shot. He kicked at the sand in disgust -- a
no-no according to the rules, which forbid players from testing the
surface before hitting any shots in a hazard. That could have
disqualified him. But after a review, the rules committee decided no
violation had occurred."Read Michael Bamberger's recent Sports Illustrated profile of McIlroy.

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