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McIlroy in shock withdrawal as Woods dodges cut

ESPN staff
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Honda Classic leaderboard

Defending champion Rory McIlroy pulled out of the Honda Classic citing wisdom tooth pain on Friday, but Tiger Woods narrowly evaded the cut on a day when Lee Westwood and Justin Rose moved into contention.

World No. 1 McIlroy was seven-over after a disastrous first eight holes on day two at the PGA National in Florida. Starting at the 10th, he double-bogeyed 11, bogeyed 14, triple-bogeyed 16, bogeyed 17 and then sent his second to 18 into the water.

He then walked off the course but, prior to making his getaway in a car, told reporters his head was not in the right place. McIlroy said: "I'm not in a great place mentally. I can't really say much, guys. I'm just in a bad place mentally.''

However, he later released a statement on pgatour.com blaming the pain from his teeth, for which he had taken medication but to no avail.

"I sincerely apologise to the Honda Classic and PGA Tour for my sudden withdrawal," McIlroy said. "I have been suffering with a sore wisdom tooth, which is due to come out in the near future. 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. I came here with every intention of defending my Honda Classic title. Even though my results haven't revealed it, I really felt like I was rounding a corner.

"This is one of my favourite tournaments of the year and I regret having to make the decision to withdraw, but it was one I had to make."

McIlroy won the event in Florida last year with four rounds in the 60s, but the Northern Irishman has not been in good form at the start of 2013, missing the cut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in January, as well as exiting in the first round of the WGC Match Play.

Scrutiny continues to fall on McIlroy's new Nike clubs, which came with the $250 million deal he signed, but he remains adamant - in public at least - that it is his own physical limitations, be it a poor swing or a tooth ache, causing his recent failings.

Woods began the day in danger of the cut after failing to break par on day one, but he squeezed marginally inside the benchmark after a second consecutive 70, despite an untimely double-bogey. The former world No. 1 had been on course to depart the competition with five holes to play, following a poor recovery from the greenside rough at 13 that saw him fall to one-over.

However, a well-judged approach to the 14th, which pitched before sliding towards the pin, dragged Woods' head back above water, and he stayed solid for four straight pars to extend his tournament into the weekend.

The halfway leader is American Luke Guthrie after a flawless 63 propelled him to nine-under, with compatriot Michael Thompson a stroke off the pace. The 23-year-old Guthrie only turned professional in 2012 and his best finish to date on the PGA Tour saw him tie for fifth at the John Deere Classic.

Rose had a chance to tie for third with Boo Weekley and Graham DeLaet on seven-under but missed a makeable birdie putt at the last to sign for a 66. Rose's round owed much to a hat-trick of birdies from the first tee, but his miss at 18 leaves him among a group of players on six-under.

Former world No. 1 Westwood is in that group - three off the lead - but it could have been better for the Brit after he failed to hit the accelerator, following his opening 66 with a 68. Once again the putter prevented Westwood climbing higher on the leaderboard, but he finds himself in position to strike over the weekend, a stroke ahead of Graeme McDowell who carded a 68.

Elsewhere, dangerous Americans Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley are poised on four-under, while England's Ross Fisher is level with Martin Kaymer a stroke further back. Ernie Els, meanwhile, enters the weekend on one-under.

It was a nightmare day for Paul Casey, though, who crashed out on a score of 15-over. Casey followed up his initial 78 with a 77 as he hacked his way to an appalling 36-hole total.

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