The Strange Case Of Rory McIlroy’s Sudden Withdrawal From The Honda Classic

  • Glenn Davis

It wasn’t a good day for Rory McIlroy. After a disappointing finish to his opening round at the Honda Classic on Thursday (he bogeyed the par-5 18th hole to finish at an even 70 on the day), the world’s top-ranked player got off to an absolutely terrible start today, with two bogeys, a double, and a triple to his credit on his first eight holes. Then, on that same 18th hole that gave him so much trouble yesterday (he started on the 10th today), things got even worse: McIlroy dumped his second shot in the water. And then… he walked off, abruptly withdrawing from the tournament he won last year. Reporters, of course, tried to get answers. This was all McIlroy had for them:

“There’s not really say much I can say, guys,” he said. “I’m not in 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.”

So… weird. The No. 1 golfer on the planet, two-time major champion, defending champ at this tournament, just up and quitting like that. Can he even do that? Here’s what the PGA has to say on the matter:

“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.”

And a little later, McIlroy put out a statement that added some new information as to why he played so badly today:

“I sincerely apologize 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.”

So… a bothersome wisdom tooth? That’s a physical ailment, no? Seriously, bad place mentally? More like…

[Glenn’s internal monologue note: No. Hold steady. Don’t do it. You don’t have to do this. Fight the urge. Stay strong.] I know, I know, but this one’s sitting right there. It’s tough. [I know it is, but you can fight through it. Come on. We’ll get through it together.] But it’s just- [No excuses. The great ones don’t succumb to temptation. You’re almost there. You’re doing fine. This is just a small challenge and you’re bigger than-]


[Sigh. You’re just like the rest of them.]

We’ll see if the PGA Tour accepts McIlroy’s reasoning, or if he incurs a fine. Either way, not a great day for him. And he doesn’t have much time to pull himself out of his funk – he’s scheduled to play in the WGC-Cadillac Championship next week. Might want to take care of that wisdom tooth in the interim.

Getty photo, by Stuart Franklin