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Wednesday 18 October 2017

McIlroy's successful stint with caddie JP Fitzgerald at an end

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and his caddie JP Fitzgerald
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and his caddie JP Fitzgerald

Rory McIlroy has sacked his long-time caddie JP Fitzgerald, ending a partnership that took the Northern Irishman to four major titles and the top of the world rankings.

McIlroy will have a new caddie on his bag at the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational this week after ending his nine-year relationship with his fellow Irishman, the source, who did not want to be named, said.

There was no immediate response from McIlroy's management to an e-mailed request for comment.

Phil Mickelson parted ways with his caddie Jim 'Bones' Mackay earlier this month after a 25-year partnership that netted the American five major titles.

Fitzgerald's sacking, which McIlroy is expected to confirm on his arrival at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, comes barely a week after he publicly thanked his bagman for jolting him into gear when he made a poor start to the British Open.

Partnership

McIlroy, who won his last major at the 2014 US PGA Championship, employed Fitzgerald in 2008 shortly after turning professional.

The pair enjoyed a brilliantly successful partnership as McIlroy took over from Tiger Woods as the game's dominant force and became world number one.

"He has taken me from 200 in the world to major champion," McIlroy said of Fitzgerald in 2011.

At the British Open at Royal Birkdale earlier this month, McIlroy again heaped praise on Fitzgerald, who delivered some blunt words to his boss after the Northern Irishman started the tournament with a string of bogeys.

He said Fitzgerald told him: "You're Rory McIlroy. What the **** are you doing?" After fighting back to shoot one-over 71 in the first round, McIlroy told reporters that Fitzgerald had done a "great job".

Estimated

It now looks like the British Open was Fitzgerald's swan song with McIlroy, who flirted with contention in the final round before finishing equal fourth. Forbes estimated that Fitzgerald earned $1.65 million from his cut of McIlroy's prize money over the 12 months to June this year.

McIlroy will answer questions about his caddie tomorrow, according to his manager.

There was silence from the McIlroy camp yesterday, though, apart from manager Sean O'Flaherty telling the Golf Channel: "Nothing to share. Rory will address all questions on Wednesday in Akron."

McIlroy and Fitzgerald have worked together for nine years, taking in his four major wins.

McIlroy will play in the World Golf Championship in Akron on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has accepted an invitation to be honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup with the competition returning to the United States later this year.

The event - between America and the rest of the world (excluding Europe) will be hosted by the Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey in late September and early October.

"It is a great honour for me to be even a small part of the Presidents Cup," said Trump, a keen golfer himself following predecessor Barack Obama, who performed the role twice, in accepting the invitation.

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