RORY McIlroy has described a controversial twitter exchange between him and Boyzone frontman Ronan Keating as "a little private joke".
McIlroy was asked about the meaning of a tweet he issued yesterday which read: "For every complex situation, there’s a simple solution. #FTB.”
It was coupled later with this slogan from Nike “Success isn’t given. It’s earned. On the track, on the field, in the gym. With blood, sweat and the occasional tear,” leading many to deduce #FTB meant ‘Feel the Burn’. However, an exchange between McIlroy and Keating hinted at a different, less contrite interpretation.
“Love the #tag bro,” Keating tweeted, to which McIlroy replied “Shane Lowry told me you’d like it :).”
Keating had “F**k the Begrudgers” tattooed on the inside of his wrist three years ago.
When asked about it today, McIlroy said: "It's a little private joke between friends something I probably can't divulge on live tv if I'm on," he said.
The world number one acknowledged he was wrong to walk off mid-round at last week's Honda Classic and said his toothache was not bad enough to justify quitting the tournament.
Facing the media for the first time since his controversial withdrawal at PGA National, McIlroy said it soon dawned on him that he had made the wrong decision.
"Obviously I've had a lot of time to think about it. I realised pretty quickly that it wasn't the right thing to do," he told the news conference ahead of Thursday's first round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
"No matter how bad I was playing, I should have stayed out there. I should have tried to shoot the best score possible even though it probably wasn't going to be good enough to make the cut," he said, referring to his ill-fated second round where he played the first eight holes at seven over-par before quitting.
McIlroy initially told reporters on Friday as he was heading to his car that he was not in a "good place mentally" and then later a statement cited pain from his wisdom tooth.
Asked which version was the truer reflection of the reason for his withdrawal, McIlroy said both were factors but that his tooth pain was not enough of a reason.
"Both. I wasn't in a good place with my golf game. I was, you know, mentally - you know, my head was all over the place.
"But at the same time, I have been struggling with my lower right wisdom tooth for over a year.
"So, yeah, look, my tooth was bothering me, but it wasn't bothering me enough to probably, you know, quit, but, that's just the way it is," said the Northern Irishman, who is paired with Tiger Woods and England's Luke Donald on Thursday and Friday at Doral's Blue Monster course.