PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL. — Pain from a wisdom tooth has forced the No. 1 player in the world, Rory McIIroy, out of the Honda Classic, leaving the players remaining questioning his decision.
“I’m a great fan of Rory’s, but I don’t think that was the right thing to do,” Ernie Els said.
McIIroy walked off the 18th hole suddenly, after playing the first eight holes of the day in 7 over. He shook hands with Els and Mark Wilson then left the course.
“We just shook hands,” he explained. “I was dropping my ball and I realized he wasn’t dropping his ball. I thought maybe his ball crossed further up. When I hit my fourth shot, he just came up and said, ‘Here’s my card, I’m out of here.'”
McIIroy, the defending Honda champion, said in a statement after he left:
“I sincerely apologize 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 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. I came here with every intention of defending my Honda Classic title. Even though my results haven’t revealed it, I really felt like I was rounding a corner. This is one of my favorite tournaments of the year and I regret having to make the decision to withdraw, but it was one I had to make.”
“If something was bothering him,” Els added, “all credit to him trying to play through whatever pain he was in. He obviously couldn’t do it after nine holes anymore. Toothache, it’s not fun I guess.
“He’s feeling terrible about it, I know he is. That’s the last thing he wants to do is walk off,” he added. “Obviously something was seriously bothering him.”
PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem also issued a statement through the PR office to underscore the Tour’s policy from a withdrawal during a tournament:
“During a round, a player may withdraw because of injury or other disability which requires medical attention, or serious personal emergency. The player shall notify the PGA Tour Tournament Director or a PGA Tour Rules Official of his reason for withdrawal, and within a period of 14 days submit written evidence supporting such reason to the Commissioner.”