Rory McIlroy knew there would be few questions about his second round Friday in the WGC-Cadillac Championship. Nobody wanted to know about his 2-under-par 70 that left the world’s No. 1 player eight strokes back of leader J.B. Holmes.
Inquiring minds wanted to know about McIlroy hitting his second shot into the water on No. 8, and then in frustration throwing the guilty club, his 3-iron, into the lake.
After the round, McIlroy knew he was going to get grilled, and he handled it the best way he could — with a smile and a few jokes.
The first question for McIlroy was the length of his club toss.
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“Must have went a good 60 or 70 yards,” he said. “I guess I had decent form, but I don’t really know.”
The first person to make light of McIlroy’s throw was playing partner Henrik Stenson.
According to McIlroy, Stenson walked over to him and said, “ ‘Well, if you can’t get on SportsCenter with your play, at least you can do it with something else.’ ”
His other playing partner, Bubba Watson joined in. Watson deadpanned, “I thought it was a practice swing, and the grip was wet.”
McIlroy admitted there was some instant thinking going on before he threw the club.
“If it was any other club I probably wouldn’t have thrown it,” he said. “I didn’t need a 3-iron for the rest of the round, so I thought, ‘Why not?’ There was a split second like should I or shouldn’t I.”
Then McIlroy admitted, “It felt good at the time. Look, I just let frustration get the better of me. It was the heat of the moment.”
When was the last time McIlroy threw a club, even if it wasn’t on national TV like this toss was?
“Like that, never,” he said. “I’ve never done it like that. I’ve hit the bag, but I’ve never went at it that hard.”
PGA Tour rules do not allow a club that is broken or, in this case, lost because of anger or intent to be replaced for the rest of the round. So, will McIlroy rush-order a new 3-iron to have it in his bag Saturday. Probably not.
“I usually don’t play with a 3-iron,” he said. “I usually go 4-iron, 5-wood and carry four wedges. But I think there is an extra 3-iron on the way. Either Sean [McIlroy’s manager Sean O’Flaherty] called the scuba diving team, or Nike — one or the other. So there will be one there if I need it.”
After the club throw and finishing with a bogey on No. 8, McIlroy was at even par for the day. He then played the back nine at 2-under. Unleashing the anger and frustration might have been helpful, McIlroy said.
“When you are struggling you need something to just give you a spark,” he said. “I’m not saying that was it, but it could have been.”
McIlroy said his frustration was not with the Blue Monster course. “It’s with my play,” he said.
Then, in all seriousness, he summed up, “This was not my finest moment.”