Tom Patri: Does Nike have a dentist for Rory McIlroy?


— I totally understand how injury or pain can affect performance. I have had two wrist surgeries myself, and the recovery and trying to play leading up to the surgery was a nightmare.

This past week at the Honda Classic, Rory McIlroy had a toothache, or at least that’s the story we the golfing public has been told after he withdrew during Friday’s second round. As a world No. 1 and the defending champion at that event, I would have thought you would pop a few Advil and play on; at least finish the round you had started.

I’m sure being 7 over without having arrived at the ninth hole surely had to have increased the pain. Having watched the highlights of his shortened round, I never knew a toothache would cause such violent behavior, including during one club slam the panel of “Slam Judges” gave Rory a very solid 9.875 for both form and the sheer violence of the slam itself.

I just find it very odd we heard nothing about a tooth issue in the defending champion’s pre-tourney press conference. I have since read Rory’s comments and the apology. Great that he did that. However, that’s a bit after the fact considering the event lost a marquee name.

I wrote some weeks ago in so many words that switching equipment can give a player a variety of ailments — toothaches, sore backs, wrists and even sore elbows. What Rory needs to understand is that, along with major championships and world No. 1 rankings, comes a certain level of responsibilities. This incident comes after the release of Rory’s longtime manager and one-time friend Chubby Chandler.

I totally get when a company offers you $200 plus million it’s an easy decision. What I don’t understand, not just in Rory’s case — other talented players have done the same — is how players never seem to adequately test and retest the equipment. They go on with the attitude that I’m Joe Superstar and I can hit anything, anytime, anywhere. Silly boy. I have to question the type of advice he is receiving other than the obvious take-the-money-and-run mentality.

Let’s keep an eye open and an ear to the ground for Rory. In the meantime, I hope Nike has a great dentist.

Tom Patri gives lessons at the Quarry on Immokalee Road, and is at Friar’s Head in New York from May-December. Patri is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher. Visit Patri’s website at, or email him at

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