Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

McIlroy calls on dentist for truth

Rory McIlroy was 'in a bad place mentally' after quitting the Honda Classic
Rory McIlroy was 'in a bad place mentally' after quitting the Honda Classic

Under-fire Rory McIlroy is ready to use his Belfast dentist to avoid falling foul of America’s golf chiefs.

McIlroy shocked the planet on Friday when he withdrew from the Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens in Florida midway through his horror second round.

The 23-year-old defending champion, who had been seven over for the day after only eight holes, cited severe pain with his wisdom teeth as the problem, although he initially told reporters he was “in a bad place mentally” and had earlier been seen enjoying a sandwich on the course.

It was McIlroy's first ever withdrawal from a tournament as a professional, but the third time this year he has failed to reach a Saturday — playing with clubs from his new sponsors, Nike — having missed the cut in Abu Dhabi and been knocked out of the Accenture Match Play Championship in the first round by Shane Lowry.

Now, Holywood’s world No.1 has been given 14 days to submit written evidence to the PGA to support his claim and if the PGA are not satisfied with his explanation, then McIlroy could be hit with a fine or even suspension from an event in America.

Sources close to McIlroy insist his Belfast dentist is ready to come to his aid by sending a letter to PGA chiefs, justifying his client’s claim.

McIlroy said after Friday’s dramatic walk out: “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 [the 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.”

McIlroy is today on his way to Miami and he is due to reveal all in a press conference tomorrow in Doral ahead of the the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

The two-time Major winner is expected to open up about his surprising withdrawal and confess that unbelievable pain and frustration with his game got the better of him in Palm Beach Gardens.

McIlroy spent Friday night with his family at his Florida home and practised at the Bear’s Club on Saturday with his coach Michael Bannon in a bid to get his game back in the rails.

The Ryder Cup star is fully focused on playing at the TPC Blue

Monster, although he will then have his wisdom teeth removed after the event.

McIlroy’s pal Graeme McDowell has backed the Co Down lad to emerge from his “mini-crisis”.

“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,” said McDowell.

“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.”

McIlroy had been playing with Ernie Els on Friday during his second round, and while McDowell was fully supportive, the current Open champion questioned the withdrawal.

He said: “I'm a great fan of Rory's, but I don't think that was the right thing to do.”

But the South African struck a more sympathetic note as he added: “He's feeling terrible about it, I know he is. That's the last thing he wants to do is walk off.

“Yeah, if he's seven over or whatever he was, you've got something bothering you, [under] the rules of play you can walk off at any time.

“Obviously something was seriously bothering him, and he was not going to make the cut and probably didn't want to continue playing that way.”

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