Jordan Spieth clears up Rory McIlroy’s Turtle Gate at The Players

A day after the controversial “Turtle-Gate” took over Day 1 of The Players Championship, the topic was still on everyone’s mind.

Jordan Spieth, who did not speak to the media Thursday, offered his side of the story after his second round, putting things into perspective.

“I get it’s me and Rory, but that conversation probably happened a dozen times yesterday in groups,” Spieth said. “Again, Viktor [Hovland] was having the conversation, and I only walked over because it seemed like, ‘Hey, let’s just make sure everything is all right…’ It seemed like they were maybe at a sticking point. So I thought maybe I could help.”

This incident was brought about by the second water ball of the day for McIlroy. What appeared to be a controversial discussion was two PGA Tour players making sure the 4-time major winner didn’t jeopardize his position in the event.

After McIlroy’s tee shot on seven found the water, it was inconclusive whether the ball hit above or below the penalty area before going into the drink.

Hovland claimed he thought the ball crossed into the water farther back toward the tee box, near some turtles.

The discussion between Hovland and McIlroy prompted Spieth to get involved.

“I only walked over there because I thought he had dropped it, and then he was questioning where he was dropping it. I was trying to make sure he didn’t play it, and everyone was good,” he said. “I was good with the spot he was choosing.”

McIlroy was adamant that the ball bounced above that line. He was also “pretty comfortable” deciding where to drop the ball.

“I was listening to the conversation of Rory and Viktor, and Rory had said, ‘We think it crossed up there, could have been back there, so this seems like somewhere in between.’ That sounds like something you probably should verify with a rules official, and then he did, and it was all good,” Spieth explained.

The former Texas Longhorn caused some confusion because the telecast captured Spieth claiming that he heard one of the television members say it bounced below the red line.

However, players are not supposed to use anyone from the outside to affect their judgment.

“I couldn’t tell because I thought it was going to land so much further that it surprised me where it dropped. I didn’t actually see, and it was close,” Spieth said. “I thought it was important to say that honestly so that he didn’t — they said it certainly hit above, Rory and Harry. Because of that, I was like, why don’t you make sure in case they caught it?”

There was also a situation with McIlroy’s first water ball earlier in the day on 18.

Due to the initial instance, Spieth was asked if that played a part into his and Hovland’s thinking on seven.

“Every situation like that is their own,” he said. “They’re not the same shots by any means. I think all anybody wants is for you to put the ball where it should go, and in our sport — especially on a golf course like this or last week, you get situations where it can be really tricky on knowing for sure. You normally err on the safe side and then pick where you’re virtually certain it did cross, and I think that’s what Rory chose both times.”

Ultimately, the Northern Irishman settled for a double-bogey on seven. So, the fortuitous drop didn’t help McIlroy in the end.

He did however finish his first round tied for 1st at 7-under. Friday’s second round was a different story though as he carded a 1-over 73 and enters the weekend eight shots behind Wyndham Clark for the lead.

Meanwhile, Spieth finished 2-over and missed the cut.

Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. For more golf coverage, be sure to follow us @_PlayingThrough on all major social platforms. You can also follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports.

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