McDowell: McIlroy will bounce back
Graeme McDowell backed his friend Rory McIlroy to emerge from his "mini-crisis" after the world number one withdrew from the Honda Classic.
Beginning on the back nine, McIlroy played his opening eight holes of the round in seven over par, then found the water at the 18th - his ninth hole - and immediately quit the tournament citing a sore wisdom tooth was the reason for his early exit.
Having missed the cut in Abu Dhabi and been knocked out of the Accenture Match Play Championship in the first round by Shane Lowry, the world number one is suffering an alarming dip in form, but McDowell told the PGA website: "I'm sure he knows what he needs to do. Only he knows where he's at in his own mind. We all experience moments of this in our career."
He went on: "This is only a mini-crisis. I look at the Match Play as a complete anomaly. He's missed two cuts, big deal. There's a lot of golf left."
Another compatriot to offer support was Lowry, who tweeted: "Gonna put this out there. Rory will win the masters."
McIlroy initially told reporters he was "in a bad place mentally", according to ESPN.
But later released a statement saying: "I sincerely apologise 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 [painkiller] 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."