Rory McIlroy joked that he'll have to sign a bag of frozen peas after managing to hit his father with a wayward shot on the opening day of the Masters.
It was a rare moment of levity from the world no.13, who struggled to card +4 round of 76.
Having opened with five consecutive pars, McIlroy went on a run of six bogeys in nine holes.
The nadir came when trying to find his way back onto the fairway after a wayward tee shot at the seventh, he struck his father Gerry on the leg.
"It was a perfect shot; it was dead straight," McIlroy Jr. said afterwards, "But I think he was okay. He didn't limp away. He walked away pretty swiftly, so that was all right."
McIlroy only hit 9 out of 14 fairways off the tee, driving an average of 303-yards.
Prior to the tournament, he'd practically conceded this week, saying his latest visit to Augusta was merely part of a bigger journey he's embarked upon with coach Pete Cowen.
"I mean, my goal is to play well and at least give myself a chance," he said after his first round, "I mean, honestly I'm quite encouraged with how I hit it on the way in.
"I hit some loose shots out there, but after hitting the 6-iron in the water on 13, I hit some really good shots coming in, so I'm encouraged by that.
A father/son moment that will not soon be forgotten: Rory McIlroy hitting his dad on the leg with a golf ball at The Masters. 😂pic.twitter.com/xPCzpalEXI
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) April 8, 2021
"Going to go to the range here and work on it a little bit more, but it was just one of those days where I wasn't very efficient with my scoring.
"I was saying to Jon there, like open before pars and then you're going through that stretch and it's like, okay, it's just sort of if you make bogey then you're sort of -- you're sort of fighting against momentum, but if you make a birdie then you can sort of get going, and just one of those days.
"But I hung in there, hit some good shots coming in.
"Could have made a couple more birdies, but it's not as if anyone is going really low out there. Do a little bit of practice and hopefully feel a little more comfortable tomorrow, go out there and shoot a good one."
McIlroy knew he'd hit his Dad at the seventh as soon as he made the shot, saying, "He's seen me sign plenty of stuff over the years, so I think that's the least of his worries.
"I think he just needs to go and put some ice on - maybe I'll autograph a bag of frozen peas for him."
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