Rory McIlroy: Split with caddy was to protect our friendship
World number four says he was increasingly taking out his frustrations on his caddie
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland speaks to his new caddie Harry Diamond during a practice round before the World Golf Championships - Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club South Course in Akron, Ohio. Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy has explained how the maintaining of a valued friendship with JP Fitzgerald was key to the Northern Irishman parting company with his caddie of nine years. McIlroy, who refused to rule out a reunion with Fitzgerald, also admitted to unease following terse moments between them in recent times.
News that the world No4 had called time on one of the most high-profile alliances in sport broke on Monday. The four-times major winner, who will have his best friend, Harry Diamond, on the bag for the WGC Bridgestone Invitational this week and the US PGA Championship after that, addressed the matter in full at Akron on Wednesday.
Right now I just needed to mix things up a little bit. JP understood that and we’re still all good
“It’s a big change,” McIlroy said. “JP has been a huge part of my life for the last decade. We started in July 2008 and went all the way up until July of this year. A lot of great times; a lot of great times on and off the golf course. I still consider JP one of my best friends, one of my closest friends, but sometimes to preserve a personal relationship you might have to sacrifice a professional one and that was sort of the decision that I came to in the end.
“I was getting very hard on him on the golf course and I didn’t want to treat someone like that. I thanked JP for everything. JP knows how much I think of him, how much he means to me, what we’ve achieved together, and it wasn’t an easy decision. But I felt like it was a change that I needed to make because I got to the point where, if I didn’t play a good shot or if I made a wrong decision, I was getting more frustrated at him than I was at myself. I would much rather be angry at myself for making a wrong decision than being angry at him.”
McIlroy also stated that Fitzgerald had not been “fired, sacked or axed”. He said: “There’s nothing to say that JP mightn’t work for me again at some point but right now I just felt like I needed a little bit of a change. I just changed my path a little bit, but maybe in the future that path might come back to where it was. Right now I just needed to mix things up a little bit. JP understood that and we’re still all good.”
It remains to be seen whether one of the most coveted jobs in the caddie world will actually come up for grabs.
For now Diamond, who is part of a successful family business in Belfast, appears happy to go with the flow. “We’ll see how the next two weeks go but I’m not ruling anything out,” McIlroy said. “It could be two weeks. It could go longer than that. If we have a couple of good weeks here, you never know. We’ll see how it goes. But I think that decision will be up to Harry rather than me. Obviously he’s got his own thing going on back home but a couple of wins might change things.
“He knows me, he knows my game, he’s caddied for me before, he knows my personality. He’s a very good player in his own right but he knows me and that was the big thing about the next two weeks. I just needed someone who knew me and knew my thought process.”