Tiger Woods to Rory McIlroy: Watch what you say

Stuart Franklin

Tiger Woods knows a thing or two about being under the microscope, so when he suggested that Rory McIlroy take more care with what he says, the world No. 1 may want to listen to his boyhood idol.

Woods, who also suggested that his young friend pay no heed to ignorant critics slamming him for his equipment change, offered his advice after McIlroy withdrew from the Honda Classic on Friday under somewhat mysterious circumstances.

McIlroy told reporters he was "not in a great place mentally" before leaving the PGA National parking lot following a horrendous eight holes into his second round. The two-time major champion later issued a statement blaming his withdrawal on a sore wisdom tooth, a mixed message that left many observers scratching their heads and calling him a quitter.

"He's just got to be more -- just got to think about it a little bit more before you say something or do something," said Woods, who noted that he withstood intense scrutiny on his way to the top because he toiled largely in the dark ages when tweeting was a sound your parakeet made. "It can get out of hand, especially when you get into social media and start tweeting and all those different things that can go wrong."

Not that Woods has been immune to criticism, as his much-chronicled sex scandal and repeated chirping about his swing changes can attest. Compared to the speed with which news travels today, however, coverage of his rise to glory and fall from grace was in dial-up mode.

"I've been through it for a long time. But also this is a slightly different era, as well. It's even faster than what it was when I came out," said Woods, 37. "Things are instantaneous around the world. We were still in fax machines, things were a little bit slower."

Woods also noted that, while he did not know how the 23-year-old McIlroy was "feeling" after his early exit, he could relate to the scrutiny he was undergoing for switching gear manufacturers.

"People don't understand," Woods said. "Most of the people that are commentating or analyzing don't understand the game of golf, so I didn't have a problem with it."

Woods, who made his remarks after carding a second-round even-par 70 to make the cut on the number, said it was tough to leave any contest early but players had to listen to their bodies. Neck pain forced him out of the 2010 PGA Championship, he withdrew from the 2011 Players Championship with a bad knee, and he left in the second round of last year’s WGC-Cadillac Championship when his Achilles tendon acted up.

"It’s tough," he said. "I've done it a couple times just because I was injured. I just couldn't go."

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