Rory McIlroy will tee it up with defending champion Trevor Immelman in the third round of the Masters after officials decided he had not incurred a penalty after appearing to kick the sand in a bunker during an incident-packed second round 73.

Masters officials took until 8.45 pm to make their decision after reviewing footage of the incident, which happened at 4.15 pm local time.

The Ulster teenager, 19, was four under par for his round with five holes to play but double bogeyed the 16th after a four-putt and then ran up a triple bogey seven at the last, where he needed two attempts to escape from greenside sand before three-putting.

The world No 17 was disgusted that he failed to get out of the bunker at the first attempt and appeared to kick the sand in anger, provoking speculation that he was in breach of rule 13-4 for testing the condition of a hazard. 

However, after being interviewed by the tournament committee, McIlroy was exonerated of any breach of the rules.

Augusta National competitions committee chairman Fred Ridley said: "A question was raised regarding Rory McIlroy's actions.

"The Rules of Golf (13-4) prohibit a player from testing the condition of a hazard before playing a stroke in the hazard.

"The decisions interpreting the rule state that kicking the ground in the hazard constitutes testing the condition.

"However, the rules allow the player to smooth sand or soil in the hazard after making a stroke provided that, with regard to his next stroke, nothing is done to improve the position or lie of his ball, the area of his intended swing, his line of play or a reasonable extension of his line beyond the hole or the area in which he is drop or place a ball.

"At the request of the committee McIlroy returned to the club at approximately 8.40pm, met with the committee and reviewed the CBS tape.

"Based on the tape and Mr McIlroy's statement of what had taken place after he played the shot it was determined that no violation of the rules had occurred."

Graeme McDowell will partner world No 1 Tiger Woods with Padraig Harrington drawn with England's Lee Westwood.