Reporting Taylor Zarzour
I am a huge Rory McIlroy fan. I love his talent, his humility, and how approachable he is. I’ll forever be grateful for the time he gave me for an interview in the Augusta National locker room, right after he collapsed in the final round of the 2011 Masters. He’s a first class person, with talent that rivals Tiger Woods.’
But I don’t like what I saw from McIlroy on Friday at The Honda Classic. An hour after he quit on the golf course he cited wisdom tooth pain as the reason for his withdrawal. I don’t question his tooth pain, but its highly doubtful that is the real reason he walked off the golf course. Could it be that he was 7 over par after 8 holes? That he shot a pair of 75′s in his first tournament of the season, followed by an opening round loss in the match play the week before? That he hasn’t developed any trust in his new Nike golf clubs, and that he has no confidence in his swing? That his mind is more focused on his love life?
Clearly Rory has a lot of work to do on the golf course, but walking off of it in the middle of the round is not the answer. Sure, plenty of other players have done it too, including Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, and Bobby Jones. But what happened on Friday seemed to be more about his golf game than tooth pain. I think Rory will realize that finishing the round would’ve been a better look. He won this tournament the year before, becoming the top ranked golfer in the world. With that, he has more responsibility for his actions than other players.
If he injured himself during the round, or had chronic knee pain (see Tiger), that would be more understandable. But walking off the course because your tooth hurts, or more likely your confidence is shattered, is unacceptable. McIlroy should have finished the round and then reevaluated his plan for finding his game. Quitting in mid round doesn’t benefit him, and more importantly, it hurts the tournament and the tour.
Again, I am a huge fan of his. He’s only 23 years old, has plenty on his plate, and is going through some transitions in his personal and professional life. He has plenty of time to learn how to handle tough situations, and is already far ahead of his peers in how to treat people. But I hope he realizes he didn’t handle this one the right way.