Rory McIlroy's wild ride

Rory McIlroy
Getty Images
Rory McIlroy's roller coaster day went from the outhouse to the penthouse.
Associated Press

Series: News Feature

Published: Thursday, July 19, 2012 | 10:18 p.m.

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England (AP) -- Rory McIlroy bounced a tee shot off a spectator's head and wound up making double bogey. Then he bounced back with two birdies in the last three holes to put himself back in contention at the British Open.

When McIlroy went in search of his drive at No. 15, he wasn't expecting anything worse than a tough lie. Instead, at the end of his wild slice, he discovered a bloodied teenager with a bandaged head and his golf ball out of bounds -- by a few inches -- next to a burger stand.

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The 16-year-old spectator, Jason Blue, from Bristol, got a considerable bruise and an autographed glove for his troubles. In addition to an apology, McIlroy drew a smiley face on the souvenir.

"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."

McIlroy did have to return some 300 yards to the tee to hit his third shot and wound up making 6, which knocked him temporarily off the leaderboard. But the No. 2-ranked Northern Irishman proceeded to birdie two of the last three holes to finish off a 3-under 67 and get back within three shots of 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 a hospital. In fact, he was more concerned about where McIlroy's ball ended up than his injury.

"He told me it was OK," McIlroy said. He didn't even know there was out of bounds on that side of the fairway.

"Yeah, I was a little shocked about that," he said. "But what can you do?"

McIlroy, to his credit, didn't let the commotion faze him.

"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."