No problems with his new Nike equipment. No problems in his personal life with Caroline Wozniacki, the former No. 1 tennis star who recently suffered a stunning loss. No adjustments needed in his openness with the media.
No, the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer said Wednesday morning, the problems that caused him to walk off the course at The Honda Classic just short of midway through his second round all rest inside Rory McIlroy.
McIlroy’s media session before this week’s World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at the Trump Doral Golf Club was the first time he faced a large group of media inquisitors since last Friday’s abrupt exit in Palm Beach Gardens.
“My head was all over the place,” McIlroy said. “But, at the same time, I have been struggling with my lower right wisdom tooth for over a year. I had braces on for six months last year to try to relieve a bit of the pressure on it and taking medication until I get home in Northern Ireland and see my dentist, who is the only guy I would trust to take it out.”
But, McIlroy said, the pain shouldn’t have driven him to quit and “it won’t happen again.”
“I think it was a buildup of everything,” he said. “I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself to perform and I’ve been working so hard and hot getting much out of it. That’s just been the frustrating thing. It was a buildup of high expectations from myself coming off the back of such a great year last year and wanting to continue that form into this year and not being able to do it.”
He also said he felt he owed it to the Honda to play again, especially now being a Palm Beach County homeowner.
Despite keeping his top world ranking, McIlroy’s year has been more akin to that of a late qualifier: missing the cut in Abu Dhabi, a first-round exit at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and then the pullout at the Honda, a year after he won and assumed the No. 1 spot.
McIlroy’s been going through a swing change, although he characterizes it as “trying to get it back to where it was.”
“I’ve worked my a— off over the last four or five days to really try to get this right,” he said. “Still, it’s a work in progress. There’s no quick fixes in golf, but I’m going to go out there this week and all I care about is my swing. I know if I can get my swing back on track, the results will follow. So, I’m not putting any pressure on myself this week to perform. I just want to get my swing in the right position.”
As far as the change to Nike equipment, “It’s about me on the golf course and the expectations and the pressure I put myself under.”
As far as that pressure coming partially because McIlroy’s so media open, as opposed to golf’s most famous player, he said to the standing room only media horde, “We, as in me and all you guys, are hopefully going to have a working relationship for the next 20 years, so I don’t want to jeopardize that by being closed.”
As far as any changes to his relationship with Wozniacki, he chuckled, “I’ve read what’s been written. Just because I have a bad day on the golf course and Carolina loses a match in Malaysia, it doesn’t mean that we’re breaking up. It’s sport, and look, I’d rather keep my private life as private as possible. Everything on that front is great and I’m looking forward to seeing her next week when she gets to Miami (for the Sony Open).”