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McIlroy's Open-winning ball sells for £30,000

ESPN staff
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Somewhere in that crowd, Lee Horner is about to catch Rory McIlroy's £30,000 ball © Getty Images
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The ball that Rory McIlroy used in the final round of his Open Championship victory at Royal Liverpool last month has sold for more than £30,000 at auction.

McIlroy threw the ball into the crowd at the 18th at Hoylake after holing out to clinch his maiden Claret Jug and it was caught by Lee Horner, from Leeds.

The ball was bought by an American golf memorabilia collector for $52,000 - £31,000 - via Green Jacket Auctions. The deal was confirmed by the website during McIlroy's victorious final round at the US PGA Championship on Sunday.

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The auction company's co-founder, Ryan Carey, said the price paid for the ball is the second-highest ever paid for a golf ball, after a vintage Bobby Jones autographed ball sold for $55,865 (£33,280) in April 2011. Jones won 13 major championships as an amateur from 1923 to 1930.

"There was a lot of interest in this ball," Carey told ESPN.com. "We had 22 different bidders from countries across the world, including Ireland, Australia and countries in Asia."

Carey said the buyer wanted to stay anonymous, but did disclose that it was won by an American.

The ball, which has the word "RORS" printed on it, was confirmed to be McIlroy's ball by his sponsor Nike.

Carey said not many tournament-winning balls have come to the collector's marketplace because they are either kept by the golfer or even lost in a bag after a round. He said he hopes that the money generated from the McIlroy ball will encourage golfers to save their balls and for some to eventually be made available to the public.

ESPN.com's Darren Rovell contributed to this article

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