Rory McIlroy Admits Tournament Withdrawal "Not The Right Thing To Do"
Golfer Rory McIlroy, “within a half hour” of withdrawing from the PGA Tour Honda Classic on Friday, “knew that by quitting he had done the wrong thing,” according to Michael Bamberger of GOLF.com. McIlroy “drove to his home” and spoke by phone to his agent, Horizon Sports Management’s Conor Ridge. McIlroy: “By the time I got home I was saying, ‘We need to reassess here.’ ... 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.” Ridge said that he "was not surprised to see McIlroy take ownership of his misstep.” Ridge: “You learn more from the hard times than the good times.” Bamberger wrote, “In the grand scheme of things these are not hard times. But in the charmed life of Rory McIlroy, they are.” McIlroy on Friday cited wisdom tooth pain for his withdrawal, and yesterday his dentist, Mark Conroy, “faxed a letter to the PGA Tour offices describing McIlroy’s condition with both of his lower wisdom teeth.” However, the root of McIlroy's problems "came not from his teeth but, when you get right down to it, his brain" (GOLF.com, 3/4). In N.Y., Karen Crouse writes McIlroy’s exit from the tournament "throws into sharp relief the PGA Tour’s policy on withdrawals, and the unwritten code of conduct for playing on while in considerable mental or physical anguish.” PGA Tour rules state that a player “must have a persuasive reason for withdrawing during a round -- an injury that requires medical attention, or a serious personal emergency -- and must provide the tour commissioner with proof of his distress.” McIlroy’s “severely bruised ego from giving back seven strokes to par on the first eight holes Friday does not qualify as a compelling reason” (N.Y. TIMES, 3/5).
FACING THE MUSIC: FOXSPORTS.com’s Robert Lusetich notes McIlroy is “still only 23 -- still figuring out what it means to be Rory -- and he learned both ends of that ethics lesson last Friday.” His withdrawal “was -- appropriately -- roundly condemned throughout the sports world.” McIlroy acknowledged that it “wasn’t a medical emergency," which means he is “sure to face fines from the Tour.” But he “only needs money to pay those.” Repairing his “battered image won’t come so cheaply.” He is still “going to be squirming in his chair” during his pre-tournament news conference at the WGC Cadillac Championship, but the questions “will be easier to deal with now than if he’d maintained silence.” Golfer Graeme McDowell “thinks McIlroy feels pressure to justify the mega-deal -- of at least $100 million -- he signed with Nike.” McDowell said, "Everyone is saying he can’t do it with Nike equipment. This game is an extremely difficult sport, especially when you start playing for other people" (FOXSPORTS.com, 3/5).