Rory McIlroy told Sports Illustrated that he made a mistake by pulling out of the U.S. PGA Tour’s Honda Classic midway through the second round.
The world’s No. 1-ranked golfer had played his first eight holes at the PGA National course in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, in 7-over par and informed playing partners Ernie Els and Mark Wilson that he was quitting after hitting his second shot into a pond on his ninth hole of the March 1 round.
McIlroy, who was the defending champion at the tournament, blamed his withdrawal on pain from an impacted wisdom tooth. The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland said in an interview with Sports Illustrated that he knew within an hour of walking off the course that he’d made a “reactive decision.”
“What I should have done is take my drop, chip it on, try to make a five and play my hardest on the back nine, even if I shot 85,” McIlroy, a two-time major tournament champion, was quoted as saying by SI.com. “What I did was not good for the tournament, not good for the kids and the fans who were out there watching me -- it was not the right thing to do.”
McIlroy told SI that he’d been prescribed a painkiller, which he didn’t take before the second round at the Honda Classic, and said he expects to have his lower right wisdom tooth extracted following the U.S. Open in June.
According to tour rules, a player may withdraw because of injury or other disability that requires medical attention, or serious personal emergency. McIlroy’s dentist in Northern Ireland sent a letter to the PGA Tour yesterday describing McIlroy’s condition with his wisdom teeth, SI.com said.
McIlroy has also said he’s still adjusting after switching to Nike Inc. equipment from Titleist clubs and balls in January. He’s scheduled to play this week in the Cadillac Championship, the second World Golf Championships event of the season.
McIlroy has in recent years struck up a friendship with former world No. 1 and fellow Nike endorser Tiger Woods. The two have played together recently and McIlroy said he may need to better emulate Woods’s tenacity.
“He might be the best athlete ever, in terms of his ability to grind it out,” McIlroy said, according to SI. “I could have a bit more of that, if I’m honest.”