Tuesday, March 05, 2013


By JAMES CORRIGAN in Miami, Florida
Rory McIlroy has sought to take the heat out of his press conference here on Wednesday by telling an American magazine that walking off mid-round in last week’s Honda Classic “wasn’t the right thing to do."
Since his premature exit last Friday, McIlroy has been criticised by his playing partner Ernie Els as well as the game’s most garlanded player, Jack Nicklaus. 
Even Tiger Woods chimed in, telling McIlroy “ to think about it a little bit more before saying or doing something”. 
But presumably Woods would approve of this “control the story” PR strategy which pre-empts many of the questions heading in his direction here at the WGC Cadillac Championship.
“It was a reactive decision,” McIlroy told Sports Illustrated. “What I should have done is take my drop, chip it on, try to make a five 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.”
There can be no doubting McIlroy’s sincerity. The 23-year-old understands his responsibilities as the world No 1 and also recognises that they would double-fold in Palm Beach Gardens as he was the defending champion. 
But after dropping seven shots in eight holes in the second round he was “seeing red” and when he hit his second into the water on the 18th (his ninth) he decided enough was enough.
The article claims McIlroy was in severe pain with a dental condition which affected his concentration, but did not address why he told three journalists immediately afterwards that his reasons to withdraw were not physical.
Apparently, his Belfast dentist, Mark Conroy, faxed a letter to the US PGA Tour HQ on Monday, detailing McIlroy’s condition with both of his wisdom teeth. McIlroy had 14 days to provide medical evidence to excuse his withdrawal or else he could have faced a fine or even a ban.
But, as if to confess that it was more of a mental than dental problem, McIlroy revealed he and Bannon went to the range that very afternoon to try to fix a faltering swing which also caused him to miss the cut in Abu Dhabi and lose in the first round at the World Match Play in his other two starts this year.
However, McIlroy still maintains that none of the blame can be attached to his January switch to Nike clubs in a £78m deal. 
“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 the equipment,” he said. 
“The problem is, I’m bringing the club too upright on the backswing then dropping it in too much on the downswing.” 
McIlroy claims not to have read or listened to any of the outcry.
“Whatever people are saying, I probably already said to myself,” he said. He also vowed to try to emulate Woods’s competitive spirit. “He might be the best athlete ever, in terms of his ability to grind it out. I could have a bit more of that, if I’m honest,” he said.



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