McIlroy Apologizes Again For Withdrawal, Claims Nike Clubs Not To Blame For Poor Play
Rory McIlroy yesterday held his first news conference since withdrawing from the PGA Tour Honda Classic last week and "admitted he made a mistake, but he also said he was suffering both mentally and dentally when he walked off" the course, according to Steve Waters of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. McIlroy originally cited a sore wisdom tooth for withdrawing but yesterday said, "I realized pretty quickly that it wasn't the right thing to do. No matter how bad I was playing, I should have stayed out there." He added, "I've learned that when the going gets tough, I've got to stick in there a bit more and I've got to grind it out. There's no excuse for quitting." McIlroy: "I wasn't in a good place with my golf game. My head was all over the place." He continued, "I actually think in the long run, (last) Friday will be a blessing in disguise. It was like it just sort of released a valve and all that sort of pressure that I've been putting on myself just went away. I was like, just go out and have fun. It's not life or death out there. It's only a game. I had sort of forgotten that this year" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/7). The AP's Doug Ferguson noted McIlroy yesterday "offered another apology, a straightforward explanation and a pledge ... that he will never again quit in [the] middle of a round." But he dismissed the idea that his new equipment deal with Nike "added to the pressure." He said, "It doesn't make a difference what deal or what clubs I play. That's irrelevant" (AP, 3/6).
TAKING NOTE: In Augusta, Scott Michaux writes if any other "athletes, politicians, CEOs or regular Joes were watching, take notes." McIlroy's apology "rang genuine and unrehearsed." His "public relations nightmare ... was put to rest with the easiest of all solutions -- sincerity" (AUGUSTA CHRONICLE, 3/7). In N.Y., Mark Cannizzaro writes having "witnessed and analyzed the way McIlroy had handled himself in the face of adversity up to that point in his career, I believe this was a blip on the radar for him, an aberration." Last week was McIlroy's "immature moment ... and it's something we won't see happen again" (N.Y. POST, 3/7). In Miami, Greg Cote writes too much "has been made of McIlroy’s abrupt withdrawal." He "didn’t get busted for DUI, test positive for steroids, cheat on his scorecard, throw his clubs into a lake or bludgeon a spectator with a 4-iron." McIlroy let his "frustration reach a hard boil and made a bad, knee-jerk decision, that’s all" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/7). But in West Palm Beach, Greg Stoda writes it is time for McIlroy "to prove himself." The "cacophony of speculation about what might be wrong with him and/or his game and/or his new equipment will increase if he doesn’t play well coming off his walk-away" (PALM BEACH POST, 3/7).