In retrospect, walking off the course like Charlie Brown and withdrawing from the Honda Classic on Friday was the wrong thing to do.
Rory McIlrory, who was 7 over par at the time, acknowledged as much Sunday in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Golf.com.
“It was a reactive decision,” McIlroy, 23, said of his walkoff after hitting the ball into the water. “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.”
McIlroy, who is 0-for-3 in 2013, apologized in a statement Friday and said that pain from an impacted lower wisdom tooth forced his departure. He said he expects to have one or both wisdom teeth pulled after the U.S. Open in June. Until then, he’ll take care of the problem with painkillers. McIlroy acknowledged that he is bothered by his swing, but said it has nothing to do with his new Nike equipment. He switched to Nike early this year.
“The driver and the ball took some time to get used to, but I had weeks at Nike before the start of the year, and I feel comfortable with all the equipment,” McIlroy, who will play in the World Golf Championships this week, said. “The problem is, I’m bringing the club too upright on the backswing then dropping it in too much on the downswing.”
Ernie Els, the veteran golfer who was playing in McIlroy’s group, told ESPN he wished he’d tried to talk McIlroy into staying.
“I must say, when I shook his hand on 18, I wanted to say something to him, but I didn’t, and I kind of regret that,” Els, 43, said Tuesday. “It was obviously a heat of the moment thing. He is who he is. You’ve got to respect what the individual at that moment is like, and he wanted to get off.
“And we obviously heard that he had his wisdom tooth was bothering him, and if that was the reason, that was that. I would have been out of my depth at that stage to say something to him if something was bothering him. So I didn’t, but I thought I should have.”