By Simon Evans
MIAMI (Reuters) - World number one Rory McIlroy acknowledged on Wednesday he was wrong to walk off mid-round at last week's Honda Classic and said his toothache was not bad enough to justify quitting the tournament.
Facing the media for the first time since his controversial withdrawal at PGA National, McIlroy said it soon dawned on him that he had made the wrong decision.
"Obviously I've had a lot of time to think about it. I realized pretty quickly that it wasn't the right thing to do," he told a news conference ahead of Thursday's first round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
"No matter how bad I was playing, I should have stayed out there. 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," he said, referring to his ill-fated second round where he played the first eight holes at seven over-par before quitting.
McIlroy initially told reporters on Friday as he was heading to his car that he was not in a "good place mentally" and then later a statement cited pain from his wisdom tooth.
Asked which version was the truer reflection of the reason for his withdrawal, McIlroy said both were factors but that his tooth pain was not enough of a reason.
"Both. I wasn't in a good place with my golf game. I was, you know, mentally ‑ you know, my head was all over the place.
"But at the same time, I have been struggling with my lower right wisdom tooth for over a year.
"So, yeah, look, my tooth was bothering me, but it wasn't bothering me enough to probably, you know, quit, but, that's just the way it is," said the Northern Irishman, who is paired with Tiger Woods and England's Luke Donald on Thursday and Friday at Doral's Blue Monster course.
(Editing by Mark Meadows)