Only A Game? - McIlroy, wisdom teeth and putting things in perspective

Rory McIlroy cited pain in his wisdom tooth as the reason for his withdrawal.
Rory McIlroy cited pain in his wisdom tooth as the reason for his withdrawal.

Newsflash - Rory McIlroy is human like you and me. Rory McIlroy gets headaches like you and me, he suffers from hangovers like you and me and he probably enjoys a lie-in like you and me. So why all this so-called shock because he walked off a golf course?

World number one, McIlroy quit the Honda Classic mid-round on Friday and as a result many of his fellow golfers reacted angrily.

Press Eye - Belfast Northern Ireland - 1st July 2012 -'The 2012 Irish Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club.'Sunday - Final Day'Graeme McDowell  on the 18th hole on the Final Day of the Irish Open at Portrush.'Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast Northern Ireland - 1st July 2012 -'The 2012 Irish Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club.'Sunday - Final Day'Graeme McDowell on the 18th hole on the Final Day of the Irish Open at Portrush.'Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

I just don’t get it. McIlroy is a golfer. It’s his job and like everyone else who works for a living, golfers are entitled to go home sick once in a while.

When quizzed on why he quit the tournament, McIlroy said to reporters he wasn’t in a “good place mentally”.

“There’s not really much I can say, guys,” McIlroy said. “I’m not in a good place mentally.” The 23-year-old was then was asked if anything was wrong physically, “No,” he answered.

However, later that day, McIlroy released a statement through his management company stating that the real reason behind his decision to quit was because of pain stemming from wisdom teeth.

South Africa's Ernie Els with the Claret Jug in a press conference after winning the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club, Lytham & St Annes. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 22, 2012. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.

South Africa's Ernie Els with the Claret Jug in a press conference after winning the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club, Lytham & St Annes. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 22, 2012. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.

“I have been suffering with a sore wisdom tooth, which is due to come out in the near future,” McIlroy said.

“It began bothering me again last night, so I relieved it with Advil. It was very painful again this morning, and I was simply unable to concentrate. It was really bothering me and had begun to affect my playing partners.”

It’s obvious that McIlroy is going through a tough time and that’s entirely his business. Who knows what’s going on in his private life? So how can anyone claim to have an opinion on his decision to quit if they don’t have all of the facts at hand.

The inability to concentrate is not something that’s exclusive to millionaire golfers. We have all been at work and felt unable to function because we have a lot on our mind. We might have had a fight with our girlfriend, wife, husband or boyfriend and as a result it’s tough to concentrate.

Admit it. If you were in a “bad place mentally” and could leave work early, you would do the same as McIlroy and leave early.

Enter stage right, Ernie Els.

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

Told about McIlroy’s statement about the sore wisdom tooth, Els softened his stance, not wanting to judge another player’s pain.

“I didn’t see anything, but if he had a toothache, that’s what it is, you know?” Els said.

“Hey, it’s tough. If you ask him how he’s feeling now, he’s obviously feeling terrible for what’s happened this morning.”

Why did Els even have to offer an opinion? Is he a qualified dentist? Does he know when someone is in pain and when they are not? I think not.

The so called fallout from McIlroy’s decision to quit the tournament is nothing more than a storm in a tea cup.

Some have suggested that the introduction of new golfing equipment has had a detrimental impact to both McIlroy’s swing and short game. If that’s the case then it’s bound to impact upon how he is feeling mentally.

McIlroy gets frustrated like you and me. He’s human remember.

It’s the holier than thou attitude from others that gets me. It’s the people who are quick to judge the 23 year-old because he walked off a golf course early who infuriate me the most.

If complaining about a young fella from County Down leaving a tournament early is all you have to bother you then you’re living a good life.

McIlroy is the best golfer in the world and he has produced some of the finest displays on a golf course in the last few years. He’s taken over Tiger Woods as the sport’s poster boy. Everything he’s done up until now has been positive and admirable. He’s a tremendous role model for young people all over the world. I think we can allow him to have one or two off days every once in a while. He’s human like you and me, don’t forget.

Some fellow journalists have described McIlroy’s decision to quit the Honda Classic as a ‘fall from grace’. This is utter nonsense and if I was a doctor and could prescribe a course of perspective I’d be dishing out dozens of repeat prescriptions.

At least McIlroy can depend on his friend and fellow golfer Graeme McDowell when the going gets tough.

“He’ll get it worked out. He’s a smart kid. We all experience this sometime in our careers. There’s a lot of golf to be played and he’s a class player,” said McDowell.

There’s no doubting McIlroy’s talent and as a result of the success he experienced in 2011 and 2012, expectation for 2013 has been at an all-time high.

Just like you and me, McIlroy struggles to concentrate when he’s under pressure and perhaps walking off halfway through a round of golf is the best thing he could have done. It’ll almost be as if some weight has been lifted and the sooner he clears his head the sooner he can get back to doing what he does best and that’s hitting a little white ball around a golf course.