PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) -- Rory McIlroy abruptly walked off the course Friday at the Honda Classic, telling reporters who followed him to his car he’s “not in a good place mentally.”
An hour later, he attributed his withdrawal to a sore wisdom tooth. It raised serious questions about golf’s No. 1 player with the Masters just more than a month away.
McIlroy already was 7-over par through eight holes of the second round when he hit his second shot into the water on the par-5 18th at PGA National. He shook hands with Ernie Els and Mark Wilson and was headed to the parking lot before they even finished the hole.
“There’s not really much I can say, guys,” McIlroy told three reporters before he drove away. “I’m not in a good place mentally, you know?”
He said there was nothing wrong physically. When asked about his swing, the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland replied, “Yeah, I really don’t know what’s going on.”
About an hour after he left, McIlroy released a statement that pinned his withdrawal on dental problems.
“I have been suffering with a sore wisdom tooth, which is due to come out in the near future,” McIlroy said. “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.”
He was seen eating a sandwich on the 18th fairway.
McIlroy apologized to the tournament, saying he had every intention of defending his title at the Honda Classic. He mentioned the wisdom tooth on Twitter and said he was “gutted.”
McIlroy, coming off a year in which he won a second major in record fashion, already set himself up for scrutiny when he left Titleist to sign an equipment deal with Nike that was said to be worth upward of $20 million a year.
Nike introduced him with blaring music and a laser show in Abu Dhabi, but it’s been all downhill from there.