McIlroy Says Wisdom Tooth Forced Honda Classic Withdrawal

Top-ranked Rory McIlroy blamed pain from a wisdom tooth for withdrawing from the U.S. PGA Tour’s Honda Classic midway through today’s second round.

He said he couldn’t concentrate and planned to have the tooth pulled. Conor Ridge, the golfer’s agent, said McIlroy still plans to play in next week’s World Golf Championship event in Miami.

“He is getting a dentist’s assessment on the tooth to see if it needs to be taken out,” Ridge said in an e-mail. “At present, he still plans to play next week, but it depends on the medical advice he receives.”

The 23-year-old McIlroy, a two-time major tournament winner and the defending Honda champion from Northern Ireland, walked off the PGA National course at Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, after hitting a shot on No. 18, his ninth hole of the day. He was 7-over par, with a triple bogey on the par-4 16th hole, and trailed co-leaders Geoff Ogilvy and Doug LaBelle II by 14 shots after starting the day at even par.

“I sincerely apologize to The Honda Classic and PGA Tour for my sudden withdrawal,” McIlroy said in a statement released by the tour. “I was simply unable to concentrate. It was really bothering me and had begun to affect my playing partners. 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.”

The Augusta Chronicle reported earlier on Twitter that McIlroy said he was in a “bad place mentally” as he left the course.

Medical Rules

According to tour rules, a player may withdraw because of injury or other disability that requires medical attention, or serious personal emergency. McIlroy has 14 days to submit written evidence supporting his reason for withdrawing.

After yesterday’s round, McIlroy said that he’s still adjusting after switching to Nike Inc. equipment from Titleist clubs and balls in January.

“It would have been nice to finish off the round a bit better,” McIlroy told reporters yesterday. “I felt like I hit the ball OK; not as good as I can, but it’s getting there.”

Beth Gast, a spokeswoman for Nike’s golf unit, said in an e-mailed statement that the company “wish Rory a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing his return.” She cited McIlroy’s reference to the wisdom tooth as the reason for his withdrawal.

McIlroy became No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking a year ago after winning the Honda Classic by two shots ahead of Tiger Woods, who also shot even-par in yesterday’s opening round.

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