Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy. (Reuters)

Rory McIlroy has claimed a 'stupid rule' cost him the Abu Dhabi Championship after he picked up a two-shot penalty for a foot-fault which saw Pablo Larrazabal to secure the championship.

The incident occurred on the second hole when McIlroy drove onto a spectator pathway and was entitled to play or take a free drop.

It transpired however that the 24-year-old's left foot was on the pathway when he played his approach, contravening the rule that if a player drops they must take full relief. The resulting two-stroke penalty crucially turned his third-round 68 in to 70.

"I can't describe how frustrating it is," he said.

"I should be 15-under and winning by one. I played the least shots of anyone in the field, so I can count it as a moral victory, if nothing else. But I can't let one little thing ruin this week, which has been a great start to the season and makes me excited for the weeks ahead.

The two-time major winner added: "I was so wrapped up in the shot I didn't notice. There are many stupid rules in golf and this is one of them."

Neither McIlroy or his bagman JP Fitzgerald spotted the infringement however the eagle-eyed caddie of the Northern Irishman's playering partner did.

Ricardo Gonzalez's caddie Dave Renwick left a note on McIlroy's locker explaining his decision to highlight the violation was in "good faith."

He said: "I couldn't have gone to sleep knowing that I hadn't said anything.

"I put a letter, a nice short one, on his locker saying that I'm sure he would appreciate what I did was in good faith."

McIlroy added: "You have to adhere to the rules of this game and he was pointing out something he thought was questionable. He was just doing what I guess anyone would."

McIlroy is next in action on 30 January at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.