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Weird Happenings at the Honda Classic

Spectators of golf aren’t typically treated to any particular weird or strange happenings while watching a tournament. One of the greats missing a relatively easy putt, perhaps. A sideline freak-out by one of the competitors in a game that’s supposed to be gentlemanly? Maybe. But what was seen at the Honda Classic on Sunday is something no fan — or PGA officials — are likely to forget any time soon. It began with Tiger Woods donning hip-huggers to get a ball out of gator-infested waters; and perhaps that may have been all. If that was, Rory McIlroy had been able to keep his head — or his body — in the game.

Unfortunately, he was not. By the seventh hole the great McIlroy, who was poised to see Tiger Woods like success, was eight over par. Then he put his ball in the water too. Not wanting to follow Woods’ footsteps from earlier in the tournament, McIlroy simply put his clubs away, and started off the course, clearly done. After the reporters got over their shock, they followed McIlroy out to his car. There he mumbled that he was “not in a good place mentally.”

That much was clear, but the devastating effects that can have on a golfer may not be to everybody. In fact, most of the game of golf is played mentally, which is why Tiger Woods’ game fell apart when his life was shaken by scandal. But the question is, even though Tiger’s been able to come back and save face, will McIlroy be able to do the same thing?

For the Irish golfer though, things may be different. People are already questioning the PR-laden “sore wisdom tooth” excuse he offered when a statement was later released about his early departure from the tournament. And some are wondering, not whether the $20 million US Nike gave him for a sponsorship is going to his head, but whether the new clubs he’s been forced to play with as part of that deal are.

Clearly, being No.1 isn’t easy, no matter how much Tiger seemed to prove the contrary. McIlroy will need to figure things out quickly, and not just to save whatever face he has left, but if he wants to remain at the top.

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