The ball that Rory McIlroy used during the final round of his convincing Open Championship win earlier this month has been put up for auction by golf auction house Green Jacket Auctions.
"We're not aware of any ball from a major championship that has ever been offered to the public before," said the auction company's co-founder, Ryan Carey. "No one collects tournament-used golf balls because it's a category that doesn't really exist."
Carey said players usually keep their balls for their own memorabilia collection or ignore the ball, simply put it back in a bag and don't recognize the memento in the future.
"That's why we have no idea how much it will go for," Carey said.
The company obtained the ball by offering $10,000 for it on Twitter on July 20, the same day McIlroy won.
Through a friend, the message was seen by Englishman Lee Horner, who was positioned in the stands on the 18th hole.
"When Rory threw the ball, it hit me in the hand and then fell down," Horner told ESPN.com. "There was a kerfuffle, but I managed to get it and hold it in the air and the crowd went crazy."
Horner, a 49-year-old man from West Yorkshire, said he didn't realize exactly how much the ball was worth. In fact, he threw it in a drawer at his printing company store.
Instead of being paid for the ball, Horner simply consigned the ball to the auction and will give back 15 percent of the final bid price to Green Jacket Auctions as a commission.
The ball matches up with photos taken of McIlroy and the ball that day. It has a dot on the tail of the Nike swoosh, the word "RORS" printed on it and a line through the model of the ball, the RZN black. Green Jacket Auctions has also placed Horner on the scene with a shot of him holding the ball on the BBC broadcast and photos taken by Horner himself on the Hoylake grounds.
Nike Golf spokesperson Beth Gast confirmed that it was indeed McIlroy's ball.
Through noon ET on Monday, 14 bids have been placed on the ball with a high bid of $3,137. The auction closes on Aug. 9, with the other items in the company's summer auction, including many Bobby Jones items. A program from Hoylake, part of Jones' grand slam in 1930, currently has a high bid of $10,573.