Fairways And Roughs Title

McIlroy severs professional relationship to preserve friendship

By PGA Tour News
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AKRON, Ohio – Rory McIlroy just didn’t want to yell at his friend any more. He didn’t want to lose his mate. The reigning FedExCup champion said his recent split with longtime caddie J.P. Fitzgerald came after Rory realized the relationship he had come to love, the one he had enjoyed since 2008 when he was just an 18-year-old potential star, was under threat. In this break-up … well, McIlroy took the blame. “I still consider J.P. 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,” McIlroy said Wednesday as he prepares for the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. “I was getting very hard on him on the golf course and I don't want to treat anyone like that, but sometimes this game drives you to that. 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. “It's a big change. J.P. has been a huge part of my life.” Fitzgerald joined the teenage McIlroy after parting ways with Ernie Els and was on the bag for McIlroy’s four majors and FedExCup triumph over the last nine years. But the little things were starting to annoy each other and the writing was on the wall as tempers were getting shorter. McIlroy did not rule out a reunion in the future, but now the job falls – at least for the next two weeks -- to another of his good friends, Harry Diamond, who was the best man at McIlroy’s wedding earlier this year. Diamond, a businessman in Northern Ireland who grew up with McIlroy in Holywood, will caddie at Firestone Country Club this week. It’s McIlroy’s first visit since winning the Bridgestone Invitational in 2014. Injury curtailed McIlroy’s title defense the following year, then he had a scheduling conflict last year. Diamond will also work next week’s PGA Championship, to be held at Quail Hollow, where McIlroy is a two-time winner of the Wells Fargo Championship on the PGA TOUR. After that, it’s anyone’s guess who’ll carry McIlroy’s bag – including McIlroy himself. “We'll see how the next two weeks go, but I'm not ruling anything out,” he said. “It could be two weeks, it could go longer than that. If we have a couple of good weeks here, you never know 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.” Diamond was a reasonable amateur player back in Ireland in his own right, with McIlroy clearly of the opinion he can add to his game. But the Northern Irishman also admits he will be taking more ownership and calculating yardages himself for the first time in years. “He knows me, he knows my game, he's caddied for me before, he knows my personality,” McIlroy stressed. “I just needed someone who knew me and knew my thought process. I might think a little bit differently than some of the other players out here, might come to decisions in a different way.” Sitting 53rd in the FedExCup this season McIlroy is looking for a similar late burst to last year, where he entered the Playoffs in 36th spot yet won the Dell Technologies Championship and the TOUR Championship to claim the season-long trophy. “The year hasn't panned out the way I've wanted it to, but I know more than anyone that can change over the course of a few weeks, especially with how the Playoffs are and how much you can vault up those standings,” McIlroy said. “There is a sense of urgency. Like there's two big weeks coming up here before the FedExCup Playoffs, and I want to play well, and I feel like I've started to turn a corner with how I played at the Open. “I feel like if I can go into the Playoffs in a better position than I was last year, I have a great chance to maybe repeat.”

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