• Honda Classic

PGA awaits McIlroy explanation for 'mini-crisis'

ESPN staff
March 2, 2013
Rory McIlroy failed to complete his second round in Florida © Getty Images

Rory McIlroy has 14 days to submit an official explanation for his Honda Classic walkout, but he is being backed by Graeme McDowell to recover from his latest "mini-crisis".

McIlroy stunned tournament organisers by quitting halfway through his second round on Friday, after reaching his ninth hole on seven-over. Another wild shot into the water at 18 - McIlroy's ninth of the day - prompted the world No. 1 to down tools, much to the surprise of those in attendance.

Official PGA Tour rules outline a player's commitment to complete his round unless adverse conditions prevent him from doing so, but McIlroy said he was "in a bad place mentally" as he left the course, before later releasing a statement that blamed a wisdom tooth.

The PGA will expect a written explanation, with a fine or suspension possible if the body is not satisfied.

McIlroy's year has gone from bad to worse in the opening two months of the season, missing the cut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in January before crashing out in the first round of the WGC Match Play.

Much has been made of his $250 million Nike deal, which brought with it both pressure and a new set of clubs. McIlroy does not look at ease with his new tools - despite his own claims that he has "rounded a corner", but compatriot McDowell insists his friend will bounce back.

"I'm sure he knows what he needs to do," McDowell told the PGA Tour's official website. "Only he knows where he's at in his own mind. We all experience moments of this in our career.

"This is only a mini-crisis. I look at the Match Play as a complete anomaly. He's missed two cuts, big deal. There's a lot of golf left."

Ernie Els, who was part of McIlroy's playing group, was slightly less forgiving when he pointed out that no player should walk off the course without good reason.

"I'm a great fan of Rory's, but I don't think that was the right thing to do," Els said.

"Obviously something was seriously bothering him, and he was not going to make the cut and probably didn't want to continue playing that way."

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