McIlroy explains reasons behind surprise sacking

Sometimes, to preserve a personal relationship, you have to sacrifice a professional one!

That was a lesson Rory Mcllroy learned the hard way last week after parting ways with longtime caddy J.P. Fitzgerald after nine years.

Rory McIlroy Rory McIlroy (Credit: Anthony Powter)

The news comes days before the PGA Championship is set to tee off, and the former world no 1 hopes a new man on the bag will help him shake off what’s been a year-long case of the doldrums.

“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 at last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Ohio.

“I was getting very hard on him on the golf course, and I didn’t want to treat someone like that…I don’t want to treat anyone like that.”

“But sometimes this game drives you to that. I felt like it was the right thing to do, and I don’t think there was any good time to do it.”

The world No. 2 phoned Fitzgerald to inform him of the change, two days after his nightmarish start at Royal Birkdale which saw him bogey five of the first six holes.

Believe it or not, it was a pep talk from Fitzgerald that McIlroy said helped fuel a remarkable turnaround to get him into contention the final day. Still that wasn’t enough to allow Fitzgerald to preserve a job he has had since 2008.

Instead the 28-year-old has turned to childhood friend Harry Diamond to caddie for him for the next few weeks, though it remains to be seen if Diamond will serve as a long-term replacement or temporary fix.

Either way the split with Fitzgerald appeared amicable – and enough that McIlroy wouldn’t rule out re-hiring him some time in the future.

“There’s nothing to say that J.P. mightn’t work for me again at some point, but right now I just felt like I needed a little bit of a change,” said McIlroy.

“I hate the term fired or sacked or axed, because that’s definitely not what it was.

“I just changed my path a little bit. 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, and J.P. understood that and we’re still all good.”