- Associated Press - Friday, March 1, 2013

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Rory McIlroy abruptly walked off the course Friday at the Honda Classic, telling reporters who followed him to his car he’s “not in a good place mentally.”

He later said it was more dental than mental, releasing a statement that he couldn’t concentrate because of a sore wisdom tooth.

The surprising departure raised serious questions about golf’s No. 1 player with the Masters just more than a month away. McIlroy has played only four rounds in three tournaments this year, and this was a clear sign of frustration.

McIlroy was asked three times if anything was wrong physically and said there was not.

“There’s not really much I can say, guys,” he told three reporters before he drove away. “I’m not in a good place mentally, you know.”

McIlroy already was 7-over par through eight holes of the second round when he hit his second shot into the water on the par-5 18th at PGA National. He shook hands with Ernie Els and Mark Wilson and was headed to the parking lot before they even finished the hole.

Els also hit into the water on the 18th and was complaining to a rules official about the muddy conditions of the fairway when he realized McIlroy was through.

“I was dropping my ball and I realized he wasn’t dropping his ball,” Els said. “I thought maybe his ball crossed further up (the hazard). When I hit my fourth shot, he just came up and said, ‘Here’s my card. I’m out of here.’”

About an hour after he left, McIlroy released a statement that pinned his withdrawal on dental problems.

“I have been suffering with a sore wisdom tooth, which is due to come out in the near future,” McIlroy said. “It began bothering me again last night, so I relieved it with Advil. It was very painful again this morning, and I was simply unable to concentrate. It was really bothering me and had begun to affect my playing partners.”

He was seen eating a sandwich on the 18th fairway.

McIlroy apologized to the tournament, saying he had every intention of defending his title at the Honda Classic. He said on Twitter he was “gutted.”

“I’m a great fan of Rory’s, but I don’t think that was the right thing to do,” Els said.

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