Rory McIlroy withdraws from the Honda Classic
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. Maybe it's time to worry.
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy walked off the golf course Friday and withdrew from the Honda Classic after hitting his second shot into the water on the par 5 18th hole. He initially said he was not in a good place mentally, then later released a statement saying he was struggling with wisdom tooth pain.
The defending champion, who started on the 10th hole, was 7 over after making a double bogey on the 11th, a bogey on the 13th, a triple on the 16th and a bogey on the 17th.
McIlroy walked straight to his car and left the Champion Course at PGA National.
"I sincerely apologize to The Honda Classic and PGA Tour for my sudden withdrawal," McIlroy said in a statement, released by the Tour. "I have been suffering with a sore wisdom tooth, which is due to come out in the near future. It began bothering me again last night, so I relieved it with Advil. It was very painful again this morning, and I was simply unable to concentrate. It was really bothering me and had begun to affect my playing partners."
McIlroy also tweeted this, after he left the course: "Apologies to all at the Honda. A tough day made impossible by severe tooth pain. Was desperate to defend title but couldn't play on. Gutted"
But McIlroy did not mention any of that when he spoke to reporters in the parking lot as he walked to his car.
"There's not really say much I can say, guys," he said. "I'm not in Nike Free Run Herre a good place mentally, you know?"
Asked if anything was wrong physically, McIlroy answered, "No." Asked about his swing getting stuck, he said, "Yeah, I really don't know what's going on."
The PGA Tour's withdrawal policy states: "During a round, a player may withdraw because of injury or other disability which requires medical attention or serious personal emergency. The player shall notify the PGA Tour tournament director or a PGA Tour Rules Official of his reason for withdrawal, and within a period of 14 days submit written evidence supporting such reason to the commissioner.
Ernie Els and Mark Wilson were McIlroy's playing companions in the second round. Neither said they sensed McIlroy was bothered by a toothache, and both were surprised that McIlroy walked off after nine holes. McIlroy shook both players' hands, said he had enough and walked away.
"I'm a great Nike Free Udsalg fan of Rory's, but I don't think that was the right thing to do," Els said after the round. But this was before he was told McIlroy released a statement explaining his withdrew because of wisdom tooth pain.
Els then backtracked a bit.
"Hey, listen, if something was bothering him, you know, Nike Free Run Herre it was bothering him and all credit to him trying to play through whatever pain he was in. He obviously couldn't do it after nine holes anymore. Toothache, it's not fun, I guess," Els said. "He's feeling terrible about it, I know he is. That's the last thing he wants to do is walk off. Yeah, if he's 7 over or whatever he was, you've got something bothering you, you know, the rules of play, you can walk off at any time. Obviously something was seriously bothering him, and he was not going to make the cut and probably didn't want to continue playing that way. ? I've played like that before. It's embarrassing. You don't want to be out there while you feel like, get me out of here."
Els, who has changed equipment as much as any top player in the game, said the scrutiny McIlroy is under might be getting to him.
"It seems like it's kind of building now a little bit," Els said. "I didn't think much of the equipment change. We've all made equipment changes before. I think there was a bit of criticism somewhere, and then I think he's furthering responding to that, and I think he's got a bit of pressure coming on him that way. I thought he played quite well yesterday. I thought he was pretty close to playing good golf, and unfortunately this morning, hopefully he gets it together. We've got next week, got four rounds there. You know, such a talented player, he'll get it figured out."
McIlroy's good friend, Graeme McDowell, who played on the opposite side of the morning wave, said he sensed something was amiss with McIlroy as he warmed up on the range.
"He was in good spirits, but I felt he wasn't hitting the ball well. There were some groans coming out of the bay next to me," McDowell said.
The fellow Irishmen haven't spent much time together of late but McDowell understands what McIlroy is going through right now. Open for his first major, changed equipment and struggled with both his new clubs and his new stature as one of the game's best players. Finally, McDowell said, he had to slap himself in the face and get over it, which he has. McDowell said McIlroy has to do the same thing.
"He's had a funny start to the year," McDowell said. "He missed the cut in Abu Dhabi, the lost to Shane Lowry in Match Play. All of a sudden he's not getting a lot of momentum.
"He just needs to get over the hurdle of playing for others and start playing for Rory McIlroy. He wants to prove to the world he's good enough with Nike equipment. He'll get it worked out. He's a smart kid. We all experience this sometime in our careers. To me, it's a mini crisis. ? There's a lot of golf to be played, and he's a class player. He's just going through a unique phase in his career. A lot of going on his world and he has the largest spotlight on him.
" ? But you don't write him off. He has the X factor that so few people have."
McIlroy missed the cut in his first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi, lost in the first round of the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship and shot even par 70 in Thursday's first round of the Honda.
McIlroy, who made an equipment change from Titleist to Nike, has downplayed concerns about his new equipment. Instead, he said he was more concerned with his swing and just needed competitive rounds to get it in shape.