McIlroy: Leaving course was a mistake

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Rory McIlroy says he should have finished his second round at the Honda Classic, telling Sports Illustrated magazine that “it was not the right thing to do” to walk out after eight holes of his second round.

McIlroy was 7-over-par for the round and headed toward another missed cut when he hit his second shot into the water on the 18th and abruptly withdrew without finishing the hole. On his way to the parking lot, he reporters that his head was not in the right place. He later issued a statement that his wisdom tooth was causing pain.

“It was a reactive decision,” McIlroy told the magazine in a telephone interview Sunday night. “What I should have done is take my drop, chip it on, try to make a 5 and play my hardest on the back nine, even if I shot 85. 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.”

The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland said his lower wisdom teeth are growing sideways and he has been prescribed a painkiller, which he did not use Friday. Even so, he said it was frustration over his swing that led to him leaving.

McIlroy switched to Nike equipment late last year after signing an endorsement contract said to be upward of $20 million a year. The world’s No. 1 player says his swing has been a bigger problem than the new clubs, and he was practicing with swing coach Michael Bannon the afternoon that he withdrew.

McIlroy said he did not read any stories about his departure over the weekend because “whatever people are saying, I probably already said to myself.”

He is playing the Cadillac Championship at Doral this week and is to speak to the media on Wednesday. McIlroy is assured of playing four rounds in this World Golf Championship (which has no cut) for the first time all year. He missed the cut in Abu Dhabi, lost in the first round of the Match Play Championship and played only 26 holes of the Honda Classic.

McIlroy, who has joined Tiger Woods in the Nike stable and has studied the 14-time major champion his whole life, said he wishes he could have been like Woods on Friday.

“He might be the best athlete ever, in terms of his ability to grind it out,” McIlroy told the magazine. “I could have a bit more of that, if I’m honest.”

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