Tuesday 16 January 2018

McIlroy: I will learn

Rory McIlroy pulled out of last week's Honda Classic (AP)
Rory McIlroy pulled out of last week's Honda Classic (AP)

Rory McIlroy believes last week's controversial withdrawal from the Honda Classic could prove a blessing in disguise as he looks to play golf with a smile on his face once more.

McIlroy quit midway through his second round at PGA National, where he was the defending champion, initially telling reporters he was in "a bad place mentally" and then issuing a statement citing severe toothache as the reason for withdrawing.

He admits that was still "no excuse" for quitting, admitting he lost control of rational thinking after a flurry of dropped shots and concedes his tooth problem was a flimsy reason for pulling out. But he has promised to learn from his mistakes, saying: "I had a lot of time to think about it and realised pretty quickly it wasn't the right thing to do."

Speaking at a pre-tournament press conference ahead of this week's WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami, McIlroy added: "No matter how bad I was playing I should have stayed out there. At that point in time I was all over the place and saw red. It was a mistake, everyone makes mistakes. I am learning from them.

"Some people have the pleasure I guess of making mistakes in private, most of my mistakes are in the public eye. I regret what I did but it's over now and it won't happen again.

"I actually think in the long run Friday will be a blessing in disguise. It was like it just relieved a valve and all that pressure I was putting on myself just went away. It's not life or death out there, it's only a game and I had sort of forgotten that this year."

Asked which reason for withdrawing was true, McIlroy added: "Both. I wasn't in a good place. Mentally 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.

"I had braces on for six months last year to try to relieve some of the pressure on it, I am taking medication until I get home to Northern Ireland and see my dentist, who would be the only guy I trust to take it out. My tooth was bothering me, but it wasn't bothering me enough to quit.

"When the going gets tough I have to stick in there a bit more and grind it out. There is no excuse for quitting and it doesn't set a good example for the kids watching.

"I feel like I let a lot of people down and for that I am very sorry."

Press Association

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