Palm Beach Gardens, FL (Sports Network) - Rookie Luke Guthrie leapt to the top of the Honda Classic leaderboard on Friday, but his ascent was overshadowed by the withdrawal of world No. 1 and defending champion Rory McIlroy.
After carding a pair of bogeys, a double bogey and a triple bogey in his first eight holes, McIlroy dumped his approach in the water on No. 18, shook hands with playing partners Ernie Els and Mark Wilson, and walked off the course.
The world's top player later cited a sore wisdom tooth as the reason for his early exit, adding that the molar is "due to come out in the near future."
"(The tooth) 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," McIlroy said in a statement.
Thus continues a disappointing opening stretch for McIlroy, who suffered a cut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and a first-round loss to Shane Lowry at last week's WGC - Accenture Match Play Championship in his only other starts this season.
Tiger Woods, who finished runner-up to McIlroy at this event last year, shot 70 for the second consecutive day to finish just inside the cut line at even par.
Now onto the top of the leaderboard, where the 23-year-old Guthrie fired a 7- under 63 with the morning wave to move in front.
The 63 marked a PGA Tour career-best for Guthrie, who sits at 9-under 131 through 36 holes -- good for a 1-stroke lead over Michael Thompson, who carded a 65.
"I was really hitting good, crisp shots, firing at flags, and I felt like I could have shot 5-under yesterday pretty quickly," said Guthrie, who shot 68 on Thursday. "I was pretty excited to get back out here and kept it rolling."
More to follow.