McIlroy’s shaky ’13 start grows worse

Rory McIlroy’s rough start to the year took a bad turn when he withdrew from the Honda Classic midway through his second round, citing a sore wisdom tooth.

McIlroy already was 7-over for eight holes at PGA National and certain to miss another cut.

"I sincerely apologize," McIlroy said. "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."

The Northern Irishman had told reporters as he walked to the parking lot that he was not in a good place mentally.

Citing no physical ailments at the time, McIlroy simply walked off the course midway through the second round, shaking hands with fellow competitors Mark Wilson and Ernie Els and heading to the parking lot for the 10-minute drive home without ever completing his ninth hole (the 18th).

He eventually confessed that the sore wisdom tooth forced him to withdraw.

McIlroy hit two shots into the water at 16 (making triple bogey) and one more with his second shot at 18. The defending champion at the Honda, who has captured two major championships by age 23, was near tears as his caddie placed his clubs into the trunk of his blue BMW sports car and he headed out of the lot at PGA National shortly before 10 a.m.

He was 7 over for his round (and the tournament) heading down the 18th fairway, and chose not to drop a ball and hit his fourth shot.

McIlroy was asked if anything was wrong physically, and he answered, “No.” Asked about his swing getting stuck, he said, “Yeah, I really don’t know what’s going on.”

In three starts this season, he has missed the cut (Abu Dhabi), lost in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play, and withdrew at the Honda.

He is scheduled to play the WGC Cadillac Championship next week at Trump Doral Resort. He made huge news in the offseason when he signed a multi-year deal with Nike estimated at $20 million annually.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.