When Rory McIlroy withdrew after 9 holes of the Honda Classic, blaming a painful sore wisdom tooth as the reason, he made golfing “mental” mistake on many levels.
A lot of speculation as to why he walked off the course followed, ranging from troubles with his new Nike clubs, his girlfriend or just that he’s not playing very well (he was +7 at the time). But whatever the reason (unless he was genuinely suffering), it was the simply the wrong thing to do.
1. In golf, you can never give up and you have a responsibility to yourself to give 100% no matter how you are playing (Rory knew the cut was out of his reach after nine holes).
2. There’s an even deeper responsibility with being World Number one or a PGA Tour player, period. Walking off the course after scoring a triple bogey is a bad example to us all, especially juniors.
3. Spectators paid hard earned money to see the World No. 1 play.
Earlier this week, legend Jack Nicklaus said:
“He shouldn’t have walked off the golf course. That was unfortunate. I think if he had thought about it for five minutes he wouldn’t have done it.”
However, today, Rory realized the mental error and said:
“No matter how bad I was playing, I should have stayed out there,” he said. “I should have tried to shoot the best score possible even though it probably wasn’t going to be good enough to make the cut. At that point in time, I was just all over the place. I saw red … and it was a mistake and everyone makes mistakes and I’m learning from them. I guess for me, some people have the pleasure of making mistakes in private. Most of my mistakes are in the public eye. “I regret what I did.”
We all get frustrated when we know we’re not going to beat our best score, lose the match, or even worse, not break 100 🙂 But whether you’re World Number 1, a 28 handicapper there’s a dishonor to the game by not finishing the round in the face of adversity. The same code of honor that self regulates cheating in the game (self-penalization), should also be upheld in not finishing the round due to poor play. I’ve no doubt this was just a blip in Rory’s career and not a sign the expectation of being world number one is hurting his mental game.
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