Rory McIlroy was expecting nothing worse than a tough lie. Instead, he discovered a bloodied teenager with a bandaged head and his golf ball out of bounds next to a burger stand.
McIlroy's opening round at the British Open threatened to spiral out of control during a wild 15th hole on Thursday, sparked by his errant shot off the tee.
The drive flew right and hit a 16-year-old spectator on the back of the head, knocking him to the grass and causing him to bleed profusely.
"If he could have headed it the other way, it would have been in the fairway," McIlroy joked as he recalled the incident.
"The most important thing was that he was OK. Because I would have felt terrible if it had have been worse than what it was."
If that wasn't bad enough, the ball rebounded further right and beyond the out-of-bounds posts by a matter of inches. McIlroy would have to return to the tee.
First of all, though, he attended to the dazed kid, Jason Blue from Bristol, who was attending his first British Open. McIlroy asked if he was OK and gave him an autographed glove that said ''Sorry'' and included a smiley face.
He made the 300-yard journey back to the tee box and ended up making a double-bogey 6, dropping him from the leaderboard.
The second-ranked Northern Irishman birdied two of the last three holes, however, to finish on 3-under 67 and lie three shots off the lead held by Adam Scott of Australia.
Organizers said Blue was treated at the scene by medics and didn't need to be taken to hospital. In fact, he was more concerned about where McIlroy's ball ended up than his injury.
"He told me it was OK," said McIlroy, who didn't even know there was out of bounds on that side of the fairway.
"Yeah, I was a little shocked about that. But what can you do?"
McIlroy, to his credit, didn't let the commotion faze him.
He bounced back with a birdie at the next and then set up another birdie chance with a precise approach into the last, which landed to within 8 feet.
"An eventful last four holes, anyway,'' he said. ''Everything was going along pretty nicely, 3 under standing on the 15th tee.
"I got an unfortunate break. But I thought I did well to keep my composure and keep my concentration and finish the way I did. I'm very pleased with that."
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