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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Rory's Motor Stalls at Honda

The big news Friday wasn't Rory's withdrawal from the Honda Classic -- first blamed on lack of mental focus, then toothache -- so much as it was about how the media and fans react to a top player's withdrawal.

I'll be blunt with you, I don't see how Rory could come out of this looking good, no matter what he said. Here's what we know, based on what I gleaned from reporters and players interviewed on GC:
  • Rory had a poor warmup session before the round.
  • He was 7-over after 8 holes -- and clearly showing more temper than usual -- then told his playing partners that he was quitting.
  • He told reporters that he was in a bad place mentally.
  • About an hour later, his agent said he couldn't concentrate due to toothache from his wisdom teeth. He had tried Advil to help him control it, but it didn't work.
  • Tim Rosaforte confirmed that Rory had been on pain medicine for about 3 weeks and had run out.
  • Rory went home and didn't practice or anything. (I assume he got the pain medicine prescription refilled.)
  • He tweeted an apology to the sponsors and fans.
  • He plans to play next week, then see the dentist in the gap before the next tournament.
And from there, the story became how Rory and Co. handled the whole thing.

Like I said, I don't see how Rory could come out on top here. I think what we saw is a standard move by a top player.

I think there's a good chance Rory simply didn't want to make an excuse for his bad play. How many times did the media complain that Tiger never admitted when he was in pain? Maybe they're afraid to show weakness, maybe they feel it's a cop-out to admit they're human, I don't know... but it happens a lot, doesn't it?

And it's not like he was wrong about the mental distraction, either. Pain does that to you.

The thing I think everybody is zeroing in on is that Rosaforte also indicated that Rory has been frustrated with his new ball lately. Perhaps he has, but I can see where such frustration would be amplified by tooth pain.

Hey, I'm not making excuses for Rory or trying to defend him. All I'm saying is that we've seen this kind of behavior by top players before... and I'm not so sure that it's not understandable. Nobody likes to admit they're weak... and certainly not when it means admitting it to millions of viewers all over the world.

Being human is such a bother, don't you think?

And for those of you tracking the play of the Villegas brothers: Manuel sits at -5 in the Tour event while Camilo missed the cut by 1 at the Honda. I did warn you...

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