Conspiracy theory: Fan picked up Rory McIlroy's crucial lost ball at British Open

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Conspiracy theory: Fan picked up Rory McIlroy's crucial lost ball at British Open

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Conspiracy theory: Fan picked up Rory McIlroy's crucial lost ball at British Open

This is certainly more in the realm of reality than the idea that aliens had to do with Jordan Spieth’s crushing quadruple bogey at the 2016 Masters, but nonetheless we’ve got people searching out bizarre scenarios for Rory McIlroy’s misfortune now.

The British tabloid The Sun is alleging that the lost ball that ended any small hope for McIlroy to win last week’s Open Championship may have been picked up by an unwitting fan.

Yes, we are in full conspiracy theory mode on McIlroy now.

A reminder: McIlroy posted a remarkable performance at last week’s Open Championship, tying for fourth after starting the tournament 5 over through six holes. The Northern Irishman got into gear after a blunt pep talk from his caddie, but he did miss a big opportunity in the end.

A drive left at Royal Birkdale’s par-5 15th in Sunday’s final round led to a lost ball and a bogey just as McIlroy was making a late charge with an outside chance at victory with the way Jordan Spieth (the eventual champion) was struggling to that point.

But as The Sun now alleges, that lost ball may not have been lost at all. The tabloid has obtained video it claims is of a fan picking up and pocketing a ball that could be McIlroy’s after his drive at the par-5 15th.

During the video, you can see McIlroy walk into frame in the outfit he wore Sunday at the Open Championship, and those filming make comments during the video to the effect that this man had just picked up McIlroy’s ball: “That fella just found the golf ball!” and “He’s not told him (McIlroy)! Terrible!”

Here’s a screenshot of the fan in question:

Yeah, so … this is interesting and everything but this is still a full-on conspiracy theory at this point.

We don’t get a clear look at the ball’s markings in this video, so this could easily just be footage of a guy picking up some random golf ball. Also, if McIlroy’s golf ball was just in some rough, nobody else in the huge crowd would see it until this guy came along?

It’s pretty strange, too, that the fellow fans filming this and the ones walking by watching this guy pick up a golf ball would not tell him to stop what he was doing if this was indeed McIlroy’s ball. As we said, conspiracy: Interesting but nothing close to concrete.

(ADDENDUM: We don’t even know for sure that this is a golf ball this guy picks up.)

Let’s indulge this conspiracy for a second, though. If McIlroy’s ball was indeed not lost and he could be hitting his second shot from in this rough, he has a good chance at making birdie on this hole (it’s a par 5 after all).

A birdie there would’ve put McIlroy 5 under with a par 5 left while Spieth was 8 under and seemingly fading. You never know what could’ve happened from there! And if McIlroy knocked off two strokes on his final total, he would’ve moved from T-4 to solo third. That would’ve put him from earning $480,000 to $684,000. That’s a more than $200,000 difference!

Some fun hypotheticals with math, but we’ll stick to the real world here. Conspiracies can be fun, but they get McIlroy no closer to a second Claret Jug.

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