Friday, defending champion Rory McIlroy withdrew from the Honda Classic and walked off the course in the middle of his second round, citing wisdom tooth pain.
Now, people are mad because a golfer doesn’t want to play with a toothache or that "he’s not mentally there” (as McIlroy apparently stated to the AP when he left the course).
These are golfers we are talking about. They stay in resort hotels, play on perfectly manicured courses and are constantly told they are great. They win just one time on TOUR and it changes their life and career forever. With proper financial planning, they most likely would never have to work again.
Golfing isn't exactly like facing a 300+ lb lineman or dealing with a 95 MPH fastball. Sure, toughness helps, but is not exactly the No. 1 trait associated with golfers.
Here’s why we give Rory a break on this one. You want tough? Look at the list of players who have one more than one major currently under the age of 40. Here it is: Tiger and Rory. Majors are when golfers prove how tough they are. That’s the time when they have to stand up and forget about the cushy lifestyle they lead. At a major, suddenly the entire sports world is watching and the pressure is intense. Suddenly, golf REALLY matters.
How big a wuss can you be if you collapse completely on the game’s biggest stage, Augusta, and then come back the very next major, the US Open, and win?
That’s being tough, and that's exactly what Rory McIlroy did.
Who really got hurt today by McIlroy's withdrawal? Well, he was going to miss the cut anyway, and those fans who followed him only missed him playing 10 holes.
But the way in which he hurt himself is that he can’t win the prestigious Vardon Trophy due to the withdrawal. And, now, McIlroy's image is taking a blow.
But this just isn't a big deal. Players withdraw. It happens.
There’s a lot of responsibility being No. 1 in the world, and there will be stumbles. Today is one for Rory and there have been, and will be, more.
If another two or three years of majors go by with no more wins and more WD’s, then let’s question him. Until then, give the guy a break.