McIlroy hoping to clear the air at press briefing

Mon, Mar 4, 2013, 00:00

Rory McIlroy will hold his hands up and take his medicine following his surprising Honda Classic withdrawal and confess that it was mainly frustration with his game – exacerbated by a toothache – that got the better of him in Palm Beach Gardens.

According to a friend, who was speaking on condition on anonymity, the world number one will speak “honestly” about his implosion when he gives a media conference ahead of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral in Miami tomorrow morning.

“Rory has poured gasoline on a fire that was kindling and now it is roaring pretty good,” NBC analyst Johnny Miller said at the weekend.

The two-time Major winner was only expressing what everyone already knows. Under pressure to perform following his huge contract deal with Nike and two poor performances in his first two events of the year, the last thing the world number one needed was a mental meltdown and controversial exit from the Honda Classic.

Dousing the media fire is now almost as big a priority as getting his game in shape.

Clearly distraught as he left the course on Friday, McIlroy spent that evening in the bosom on his family at his Florida home and practised with his coach Michael Bannon at the Bear’s Club on Saturday in a bid to get his game back in the rails.

Teeth removed

The two-time Major winner is also likely to have his wisdom teeth removed after the event at the TPC Blue Monster where his form will come under even more scrutiny.

According to his friend, McIlroy will fully accept the criticism he received in the media but will also stand by the wisdom teeth story, confirming that he was in severe pain.

He had been taking pain-killers for his dental problem and the PGA Tour will be receiving a letter from his dentist in Belfast within days justifying his decision to walk off after completing just eight holes of Friday’s second round when he was seven over par for the day.

Miller also claimed that McIlroy’s playing partners, Ernie Els and Mark Wilson, tried to talk him out of walking off the course, knowing full well it would just bring him more problems.

“He’s not even playing close to good golf. I’m pulling for him. He’s good for golf. But walking off the course . . I know the guys playing with him said, ‘Don’t walk off the course’.”

McIlroy’s close friend Graeme McDowell said he was in touch with McIlroy on Friday evening, but only by text.

“I was on the text to Rory a bit last night and he was fine,” McDowell said after his Saturday round.

The entire incident brings into focus not only McIlroy’s huge deal with Nike but also the role of management companies in protecting a player’s brand and he may need to hire an experienced media spokesman for such situations.

Tiger Woods urged his new friend to be more cautious in future, especially in the age of social media and rolling news.

“He’s just got to be more . . . just got to think about it a little bit more before you say something or do something,” Woods said, pausing mid-sentence to choose his words as carefully as possible. “It can get out of hand, especially when you get into social media and start tweeting and all those different things that can go wrong.”

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