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'To preserve a personal relationship, you sacrifice a professional one': McIlroy confirms JP split

Close friend Harry Diamond will be on the world number four’s bag this week.

Rory McIlroy celebrates with caddie JP Fitzgerald after winning The Irish Open McIlroy: "It wasn't an easy decision." Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

RORY MCILROY HAS confirmed his split from long-time caddie JP Fitzgerald this evening.

Speculation gathered pace this week that McIlroy had brought an end to his nine-year relationship with Fitzgerald, and the world number four confirmed the news at a press conference on the eve of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.

“Sometimes to preserve a personal relationship, you have to sacrifice a professional one,” said McIlroy, who will have Harry Diamond – the best man at his wedding – on his bag this week.

“I was treating him hard on the golf course. I don’t want to treat anyone like that. Sometimes this game drives you to that.”

The 28-year-old is now hoping he can look ahead to future success with a new approach as he seeks to add to his quartet of Major triumphs.

“I’m coming to Firestone, I have four good rounds to get to know someone else on my bag,” he said.

I thank JP for everything. It wasn’t an easy decision. I felt it was a change I needed to make.

“I got to the point where if I didn’t play a good shot or made a bad decision, I’d get frustrated at him. I’d much rather be angry at myself than be angry at him.

“There’s nothing to say JP might not work for me again in the future. I hate the term fired or axed. I just changed my path a little bit. Maybe in the future that path will come back where it was.

“I just need to change my path a little bit and JP understood that.”

The initial reports came as a surprise given McIlroy’s success alongside Fitzgerald, who carried his bag during his four Major victories and rise to world number one.

However, McIlroy’s last victory in golf’s big four came at the 2014 US PGA Championship and he has struggled with form and fitness this season.

At last month’s Open, Fitzgerald spurred McIlroy into action after a dreadful start to the tournament at Royal Birkdale by asking him: “You’re Rory McIlroy, what the f*** are you doing?”

McIlroy finished in a tie for fourth in Southport.

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