DORAL — As if quitting in the middle of a tournament didn't bring Rory McIlroy enough attention, it might not let up on the course.
McIlroy has been in damage control mode since Friday, when he was 7 over through eight holes and quit at the Honda Classic. After an apology to Sports Illustrated, acknowledging the wisdom tooth issue that was cited for his withdrawal should not have kept him from finishing, he faced the media Wednesday and took all the blame.
"There's no excuse for quitting. … I feel like I let a lot of people down with what I did last week and for that I am very sorry. I actually think in the long run, (withdrawing) will be a blessing in disguise," he said. "It was like it just sort of released a valve, and all that pressure that I've been putting on myself just went away. And I was like, 'Just go out and have fun. It's not life or death out there. It's only a game.'
"I had sort of forgotten that this year."
The world's No. 1 player won't be able to escape the spotlight when the WGC Cadillac Championship begins today at Doral. He will spend the opening two rounds with Tiger Woods and Luke Donald. And while McIlroy's behavior has been questioned, it's his game that has been the most curious.
In his 2013 debut in Abu Dhabi, he had rounds of 75-75 to miss the cut. McIlroy, 23, had a sloppy performance on Dove Mountain and lost in the first round of the WGC Match Play, then made it through only 26 holes last week at PGA National.
His expectations this week?
"Just work on my swing," he said. "Try to get my swing back."
Woods is coming off a mediocre Honda Classic, failing to break par in any of the four rounds on his way to a tie for 37th. He is a three-time winner at Doral.
Woods had some advice for McIlroy's problems: keep going.
"We play week after week," Woods said. "Once one week ends, you have to move on the next one. And we're on a different venue and different golf course. For me over the years, I've just put it aside and moved on, whether it was good or bad, whether I won the tournament or missed the cut."
Woods lost his soul? After Michael Thompson won the Honda Classic last weekend for his first PGA Tour victory, his longtime swing coach said Thompson rebounded from poor play by sticking to positives, doing a little bit every day and not worrying about consistency.
"Trying to get consistency is like going after a fool's errand,'' Susie Meyers said. "It doesn't happen in life. If you try to be consistent you live in a frustrating world. … Our goal is to have a new fresh beginning every shot, every tournament and see what we can do with it.
"We got sucked into that consistent thing when Tiger was having his long run of great golf and we thought that it was possible to do that. But what we found out was that Tiger lost his soul to do that, and it's just not worth it.''