Rory McIlroy confirmed what’s been reported all week when he arrived for his pre-round press conference at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: He’s split from longtime caddie J.P. Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald was employed in 2008, putting him in a front row seat for Rory’s rise to No. 1. He was on the bag for all four major victories and every one of McIlroy’s professional wins, but after the T4 finish at The Open Championship, McIlroy decided it was time to take more responsibility for his game and make a dramatic change to his team.
“I consider J.P. one of my best friends, but sometimes to preserve a personal relationship you might have to sacrifice a professional one and that was sort of the decision I came to.”
This week, McIlroy will have Harry Diamond on the bag. Diamond is one of Rory’s oldest and closest friends, a fill-in caddie for McIlroy in the past.
McIlroy didn’t commit to any one person as his long-term caddie moving forward. He didn’t rule out the possibility that Diamond would continue to be on the bag for the next two weeks, including the PGA Championship next week at Quail Hollow, but he also didn’t rule out a return to J.P. Fitzgerald in the future.
The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational field is outstanding, but the focus on Rory’s caddie-change comes with an eye looking ahead to the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow next week. Having Harry Diamond on the bag might not matter as much as Rory’s own mindset.
“To me it’s more of an ownership thing,” CBS Sports golf analyst Dottie Pepper said of McIlroy’s change. “You need to own your own thoughts and know your numbers.”
If there’s any course where McIlroy should be able to trust his own instincts — in comparison to the man on the bag — it should be Quail Hollow, where he has won the Wells Fargo twice and set the course record (61) during his runaway win in 2015.