Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

McIlroy abandons round, walks off course in Florida

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Rory McIlroy left before his round was even over. Tiger Woods had to rally just to stick around.

And with all that drama Friday in the Honda Classic, hardly anyone noticed that Luke Guthrie showed off his potential in a big way with a 7-under 63 to take a one-shot lead going into the weekend at PGA National.

Guthrie, pegged by many of his peers as a rookie worth watching going into the year, played bogey-free on another cool, cloudy day.

Of his seven birdies, perhaps the most impressive for the Big Ten champion from Illinois came on the sixth hole when he had mud on the side of his ball and was able to work the shot in from the right to about 10 feet.

After finishing his round, he walked into an interview room when someone mentioned that McIlroy walked off the course after being 7-over par through eight holes.

"I had no clue," Guthrie said. "I was just kind of going about my business out there."

He was at 9-under 131 and had a one-shot lead over Michael Thompson. Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., is two shots back.

McIlroy, who missed the cut in Abu Dhabi and lost in the first round of the Match Play Championship in his previous two starts, made a double bogey on his second hole and rinsed two balls in the water on the 16th hole on his way to a triple bogey.

He hit his approach to the 18th in the water and never finished the hole.

He shook hands with Ernie Els and Mark Wilson and was on his way, but not before conflicting messages.

McIlroy told three reporters who followed him to his car that it was nothing physical but that he was "not in a good place mentally."

An hour later, he released a statement through his management company that he couldn't concentrate because of a sore wisdom tooth.

Woods looked as if he might join him, but he rallied to shoot 70 and make the cut on the number.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 2, 2013 C6

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