After winning the Honda Classic in 2012, Rory McIlroy, the world's No. 1 golfer, will not defend his title in 2013.
UPDATE: Friday, March 1, at 11:30 a.m. ET by Ethan Grant
More information has emerged surrounding McIlroy's stunning withdrawal after his ninth hole of the day at Palm Beach Gardens.
McIlroy released this statement (via PGATour.com) after the dust had settled, and asserts that the pain in his mouth was just too great to overcome as made the choice to not finish the back nine:
I sincerely apoloize 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.
---End of update---
UPDATE: Friday, March 1, at 10:58 a.m. ET by Ethan Grant
Very little explanation was given to McIlroy's withdrawal during the early stages of this story, but the PGA Tour Media Twitter account is reporting that wisdom tooth pain affected his concentration and contributed to a poor showing at the Honda Classic:
---End of update---
That's the latest from Jason Sobel of the Golf Channel, who is reporting that McIlroy has withdrawn from the tournament on Friday after a slow start to the first two rounds.
Here is Sobel's tweet:
Breaking: Rory McIlroy has withdrawn from Honda Classic.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) March 1, 2013
Unless there is a medical issue that hasn't reared its ugly head, McIlroy decided to just walk off the course strictly due to poor play after a front-nine 42 during his second round on Friday morning (seven-over through just eight holes).
As he left the parking lot of the Palm Beach Gardens complex, McIlroy offered a brief explanation as to why he decided to pack his clubs up early (via ESPN.com): "I'm not in a great place mentally. I can't really say much, guys. I'm just in a bad place mentally.''
After finishing Thursday's first round at the Honda Classic with an even-par 70, McIlroy's fortunes didn't change much on Friday. He struggled out of the gate, and Sobel noted how strange his opening card was just a few minutes before announcing Nike's new star golfer had withdrawn:
Rory McIlroy so far today: Par-double-par-bogey-par-par-triple-bogey. Don't sound the alarms. But make sure they're working, just in case.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) March 1, 2013
McIlory, like his new friend Tiger Woods, has struggled with inconsistent play to start the 2013 season.
He and Woods both missed the cut at the 2013 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he's already confirmed that he is going to trim his tournament list (via PGA.com) to reflect a lighter workload during the calendar year.
Although his slow start at the Honda Classic might stem from an extended layoff, one of the culprits that will take heat in the coming days is his new Nike golf clubs. He switched back to his Scotty Cameron putter (via PGA.com) after a frustrating opening round with a Nike putter at Abu Dhabi, and his latest appearance at the Honda Classic has done nothing to dispel rumors of being uncomfortable with the new clubs.
While the rest of the field continues to compete over the weekend, it will be without the No. 1 golfer in the world—yet again.
As Sobel noted on Twitter, the fall from grace continues for the man who asserted himself as a force to be reckoned with just one year ago—at this tournament, no less.
What a difference: One year ago, Rory McIlroy won Honda and became No. 1 in the world. This year, he plays 26 holes and leaves mysteriously.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) March 1, 2013
After missing the cut and now walking off the course, there are some major questions for McIlroy to answer about what is wrong with his championship-caliber swing.