We’ve all had our bad days on a golf course, water, trees, out of bounds, wrong fairways, all of the above. For most of us hackers we play thru the “shanks” because we probably shelled out close to $100 for the round. That’s not the case with Rory McIlroy. After an opening round even par 70, the #1 golfer in the world wasn’t having much fun during the second round of the Honda Classic. He was +7 thru eight holes while starting off on the back nine of the course. After hitting his ball in the drink on the 18th he stormed off the course essentially quitting the event. It was obvious to everyone McIlroy was going to miss the cut from the tournament he won last year. The immediate quote from Rory to a reporter as he abruptly left the course was “I’m not in a good place mentally, you know?” Good place Mentally? Nobody is in a good place when they just put their golf ball in the lake. Nobody is in a good place mentally when they are playing bad golf either. You can’t simply bail on a PGA event and the fans because you’re not playing well. Quite frankly, I couldn’t wait to hear the sanctions the PGA was going to hand down for the poor sportsmanship displayed by the supposed best player in the world.
About an hour after Rory left the golf course we had “new” breaking news on his epic meltdown. The following statement was read:
“I sincerely apologize 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 the 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.”
Toothache, are you kidding me? Did the PGA really just help Rory conjure up this tooth story to save face for the tour and its newest star? It sure looks that way.
Not once did Rory ever come close to mentioning a sore tooth before this written statement. It never came up during the Pro-Am festivities earlier in the week or at any pre-tournament press coverage. We never saw him fidgeting with his mouth, teeth, or gums. We never saw any grimacing pain on Rory’s face throughout his shortened second round. The first we heard of the tooth issue was well after the he wasn’t mentally ready comment. If I’m walking off the golf course and a pushy reporter asked me why I just quit mid round and my tooth was killing me I would angrily say, “My bleeping tooth hurts pal, back off.” That didn’t happen. Would Rory have quit if he was 2 under and not 7 over for the round? How do you go from “I’m not mentally ready” to now a toothache claim without a little PR help from someone in between? Why didn’t the PGA ever give John Daly the toothache alibi? Come on guys, we’re not stupid.
Golf is a gentleman’s sport. I’ve heard countless stories over the years about players penalizing themselves costing tour cards, titles, and tens of thousands of dollars. Rory is a fine young player but we all make mistakes. He made one last Friday. Maybe he doesn’t like his new sponsor’s gear or maybe he is a little distracted dating a top tennis pro, who knows? You need to own your poor play Rory. Come clean, apologize, face the penalty and we’ll forgive you Rory. The PGA had a chance to set an example but they caved. They ran with this malarky tooth excuse and didn’t hold Rory accountable for his actions. Shame on the PGA! I find them enabling Rory far more despicable than the act of quitting itself.
The PGA needs to lead by example. Their actions over the weekend resembled a defense attorney for Lindsay Lohan more than the governing body of professional golf in our country. You’re better than that PGA, start acting like it!