McIlroy walks out of Honda Classic, blaming toothache

Mystery surrounds the form and morale of world number one Rory McIlroy after he walked off the course at the Honda Classic in Florida, midway through his second round. McIlroy blamed a painful wisdom tooth, but it’s plain that his problems run deeper than dental.

McIlroy was seven over after eight holes of his round. When he hit his second shot into the water at a par-five hole, he decided that was enough for the week. He was certain to miss the cut in any case.

Although initially he told reporters that he was not in a good place mentally, he amended that in his official statement on the PGA website. "I have been suffering with a sore wisdom tooth, which is due to come out in the near future," he explained. "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."

McIlroy was the defending champion, but his recent form suggests he is far from his best. "Even though my results haven't revealed it, I really felt like I was rounding a corner," he said. "I regret having to make the decision to withdraw, but it was one I had to make. I sincerely apologise to the Honda Classic and PGA Tour for my sudden withdrawal."

Some observers wonder whether a change of clubs is at the root of the problem. McIlroy signed a $150 million deal to use Nike clubs in January but 2013 has seen a woeful dip in form. He missed the cut in Abu Dhabi, lost in the opening round at the World Match Play and didn’t even manage to complete two rounds in the Honda Classic. With the Masters looming in mid-April, McIlroy only has six weeks to recover some semblance of form.

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