Saturday 17 March 2018

Rory McIlroy blames sore wisdom tooth after walking off course in middle of round

Rory McIlroy cut a forlorn figure at Palm Beach Gardens
Rory McIlroy cut a forlorn figure at Palm Beach Gardens
World number one Rory McIlroy walks off the course during the second round of the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Rory McIlroy on the 16th hole where he took a triple bogey
Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

Rory McIlroy blamed a sore wisdom tooth for his extraordinary meltdown today at a golf event in Florida in which he walked off the course in the middle of his round.

In a meltdown to rival his final round horror show at the Masters, McIlroy admitted after withdrawing from the event that he was "just in a bad place mentally". He was already seven over after just eight holes at the Honda Classic.

In a statement released to the PGA Tour McIlroy said: "I sincerely apologise to the Honda Classic and PGA TOUR for my sudden withdrawal.

"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. I came here with every intention of defending my Honda Classic title.

“Even though my results haven't revealed it, I really felt like I was rounding a corner.

“This is one of my favorite tournaments of the year and I regret having to make the decision to withdraw, but it was one I had to make."

McIlroy had a level-par 70 yesterday, but was set to miss the cut after his flurry of dropped shots before deciding enough was enough. He had double-bogeyed the 11th, taken a seven at the par-four 16th, and also given shots away at the 13th and 17th holes.

McIlroy hit his third shot into the water on the 18th - the ninth hole of his round. McIlroy took a drop, played again, but never putted out. He signaled to his caddie that they'd be leaving and he walked straight across the practice putting green and to his car. McIlroy now has a home in nearby Jupiter.

The 23 year old world number one has struggled for form this season since signing his megadeal with Nike.

McIlroy began the year with much fanfare, signing a lucrative endorsement deal to endorse Nike clubs and switching all 14 in his bag to the new equipment.

But so far there has been no success of any kind.

He missed the cut with rounds of 75-75 at the season-opening event in Abu Dhabi, was bounced after the first round of last week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship to fellow countryman Shane Lowry, then shot even-par 70 on Thursday in the opening round here at PGA National before making a triple bogey, a double bogey and two pars in his first eight holes on Friday morning.

The PGA Tour reported on its website it was the first time McIlroy has ever withdrawn during a tournament.

Speaking after his steady opening round, McIlroy admitted he was struggling with his game.

He said: "It's hard to commit to the shot that you need to play every time. I felt like I hit the ball OK, not as good as I can, but it's getting there."

The link between McIlroy's slump in form and his new clubs has already been remarked on, but he has dismissed concerns about distance control.

"Distance control has actually been one of the easiest things to get adjusted to," McIlroy said yesterday. "I hit a couple out there that went a little further than I expected. I don't know if they just got up in the wind or whatever, but I hit a wedge on the eighth hole, which I felt like it went a long way, pitched 10 yards over the pin. But you know, apart from that, it feels pretty good."

The PGA Tour said a statement was expected shortly explaining McIlroy's walk-off.

McIlroy’s meltdown will evoke memories of his spectacular collapse in the final round of the 2011 US Masters at Augusta.

McIlroy entered the final round with a four stroke lead on 12-under-par but his tournament began to unravel quickly.

His round got off to a shaky start, but it all fell apart between the 10th and 12th holes. McIlroy went triple bogey, bogey, double bogey over that three-hole stretch and eliminated himself from contention in the blink of an eye. He finished with the worst final-round score in Masters history at an eight-over 80.

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