McIlroy: Walk-off was blessing

 
Frank Dalleres
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TROUBLED world No1 Rory McIlroy insists he still regrets last week’s walk-off at the Honda Classic but says it “relieved a valve” and believes it could ultimately help him out of a disastrous slump.

McIlroy risked censure from the PGA Tour when he abandoned the defence of his title on Friday following a dreadful start to his second round, telling reporters he was “in a bad place mentally”.

The Northern Irishman later released a statement blaming the sudden withdrawal on toothache, and stuck to both stories yesterday as he prepared to return to action tomorrow at the WGC Cadillac Championship.

“I had a lot of time to think about it and realised pretty quickly it wasn’t the right thing to do,” said McIlroy, who has struggled since switching clubs from Titleist to Nike in a £150m deal.

“Mentally my head was all over the place but at the same time I have been struggling with my lower right wisdom tooth for over a year. When the going gets tough I have to stick in there a bit more and grind it out.”

McIlroy’s 2013 lowlights include exiting the WGC Match Play in the first round and missing the cut in Abu Dhabi, but he predicts an improvement in his demeanour will reap better results.

“I actually think in the long run Friday will be a blessing in disguise,” he added. “It was like it just relieved a valve and all that pressure I was putting on myself just went away.”

RORY’S 2013

Jan: Misses cut at Abu Dhabi Championship, his first outing for Nike
Feb: Beaten in first round of WGC Match Play by Shane Lowry
Mar: Walks off during second round of Honda Classic, later cites toothache