This guy may have cost Rory McIlroy the British Open by stealing his ball

Just when you finished digesting the “Jordan Spieth used a 3-wood as an alignment aid after his drop on the 13th hole” conspiracy, we have another. Rory McIlroy had his golf ball stolen!

Or so says a report in British tabloid The Sun, which put forth that an overzealous/greedy/stupid fan pocketed the Ulsterman’s ball. When did this happen? After Rory McIlroy’s wayward drive at the 15th hole. Rory and company searched for the ball amid the roughage with no success.

However, a video sent to The Sun shows a man picking up something that looks like a golf ball and pocketing. Of course, the image quality is so poor you can’t be sure it’s a golf ball, let alone Rory’s golf ball. However, the guy did pick something golf ball-like and abscond with it.

McIlroy, for his part, did not find the golf ball, and had to declare it lost. He took a bogey six on the hole. Here’s a shot of the dude with the “ball.”

What do you think? (You can see the video here)

(Credit/The Sun)

While McIlroy was ultimately never going to catch Spieth, any prayer of challenging went up in smoke when he lost his ball at the 15th.

Not like he cares, but if the dude did make off with Rory’s ball, he also robbed the golfer of some cash. McIlroy finished tied for fourth. If he’d simply birdied the hole (rather than bogeyed) he’d have likely finished in solo third. The prize difference between the two spots? More than 200K.

Golf has enough actual and perceived rules controversies for armchair officials to keep an eye on. Now they have to watch for people stealing golf balls? Good grief.

We certainly haven’t heard the last of this one. Expect frame-by-frame analysis ala the Kennedy assassination video, debate as to whether the guy actually picks up a ball, if that’s where Rory’s is likely to have landed, an analysis of his behavior, criticism of the guy filming the incident for not stepping in. This is only the beginning of Lostballgate.