Rory McIlroy pulled out of The Honda Classic midway through his round Friday. (Franklin/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Defending champion Rory McIlroy withdrew from The Honda Classic midway through his round on Friday, citing pain in his wisdom tooth.
"I sincerely apologize to The Honda Classic and PGA TOUR for my sudden withdrawal," McIlroy said in a statement after leaving the course. "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."
McIlroy was 7 over on his round when he walked off the course and quickly left the property after hitting his second shot into the water on the 18th hole, his ninth.
"It was really bothering me and had begun to affect my playing partners," McIlroy said of his tooth. "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."
McIlroy's playing partners Friday, Mark Wilson and Ernie Els, said they weren't affected, but they did notice McIlroy wasn't as sharp.
"He wasn't playing the way the world No. 1 plays normally," Wilson said. "He was upset with his golf and I guess he had enough for the week."
Wilson added that McIlroy didn't mention his tooth during the round.
"All he did was hand me the scorecard and said that he's going in after that hole," Wilson continued.
According to McIlroy's management team, McIlroy's tooth pain goes back three months.
It was recommended that he have the tooth taken out, but the pain subsided so McIlroy did nothing. Earlier this week, however, it cropped up again, according to McIlroy's manager.
The current plan is for McIlroy to play next week's World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship and then have the tooth removed.
He is also scheduled to play the Shell Houston Open.
Friday, McIlroy's struggles started early.
He nearly hit his approach on the 11th hole into the water before chipping through the green and making double bogey.
Two holes later, he made another bogey after driving it well right and being forced to lay up. He missed a 6-footer to save par.
Things went from bad to worse on the par-4 16th. McIlroy hit his tee shot into the water, took a drop, then hit another into the water before carding a 7.
On the par-3 17th, McIlroy three-putted from just over 40 feet to fall to 7 over through his first eight holes.
"Rory has been a remarkable champion for The Honda Classic," Ken Kennerly, the tournament's executive director said in a statement. "His tooth was clearly affecting his ability to compete in the tournament this morning. We wish him a quick recovery so he can continue his 2013 season. He has always been very supportive of The Honda Classic from the day he first began his pro career and we look forward to having him back for many years to come."
This marks the first time in McIlroy's career that he has withdrawn from a tournament.
Later, McIlroy said via Twitter: "Apologies to all at the Honda. A tough day made impossible by severe tooth pain. Was desperate to defend title but couldn't play on. Gutted."
It is the third time he has failed to make it to the weekend this year.
McIlroy missed the cut in his season debut in Abu Dhabi then was eliminated in the first round of last week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
"I'm sure he knows what he needs to do," Graeme McDowell, who is good friends with McIlroy, said. "Only he knows where he's at in his own mind. We all experience moments of this in our career.
"This is only a mini-crisis. We're 2.1 events into the season for Rory. I look at the Match Play as a complete anomaly. He's missed two cuts, big deal. There's a lot of golf left."