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Rory McIlroy explains decision to part ways with caddie J.P. Fitzgerald

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A report was recently released that Rory McIlroy fired longtime friend and caddie J.P. Fitzgerald, who was on his bag for each of McIlroy’s four major championship victories. While McIlory doesn’t want to consider this a “firing,” and simply a change of paths, he did confirm the split and spoke candidly about the decision during a press conference ahead of the 2017 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

He admits to being “very hard on him” on the golf course, and that he “didn’t want to treat someone like that.”

“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. “I was getting very hard on him on the golf course and I didn’t want to treat someone that – I don’t want to treat anyone like that. But sometimes this game drives you to that, but I felt like it was the right thing to do, and I don’t think there was any good time to do it.”

McIlroy, now ranked No. 4 in the Official World Golf Rankings, has replaced Fitzgerald with his friend, Harry Diamond, for both this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the 2017 PGA Championship.

During the press conference, McIlroy didn’t rule out going back to Fitzgerald in the future, but “needed to mix things up a bit.”

“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,” McIlroy said. “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, but 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.”

McIlroy is still chasing his first major championship victory since the 2014 PGA Championship.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Realist

    Aug 7, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Lot of hate by folks who have never made a business decision in their life. Rory has obligations (sponsors, fans, family, etc) and felt like he needed a new guy on the bag. I dont know why, but 90% of golf is mental, so I dont have to know why. Made sense to him, and its his future on the line. Time will tell if he made a good business move.

  2. neil

    Aug 7, 2017 at 11:30 am

    harsh;Rory by all accounts is a very nice guy.

    most top players would have fired him years ago,JP will have a nice package and will never need to work again

  3. Rich Douglas

    Aug 6, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    “You’re such a good friend that I have to fire you!”

    What a clown.

  4. Jacked_Loft

    Aug 5, 2017 at 5:54 am

    Good for JP. After putting up with a player that has turned into a prissy DB maybe he can get a better bag. What an excuse from RM…protecting a friendship indeed.

  5. Robert Parsons

    Aug 4, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    Take credit for the wins, blame the caddie for the mistakes…

    I wouldn’t want to treat my friend like that either. So I’d own up to my mistakes on the course and move on.

  6. Chris

    Aug 4, 2017 at 11:17 am

    “Don’t want to treat a friend like that” immediately hires a good friend for the job…

  7. pooch

    Aug 4, 2017 at 10:49 am

    Looks like Rory is growing into being a not so nice person. Its not your caddy. He will treat his next caddy the same way. Blame yourself when you play poorly. I may be wrong but I see these young players blaming their caddies much more than before, Could be more coverage on course. The game’s bedrock is taking responsibility for your actions and outcomes. Gee If I play poorly I blame myself because I don’t have a caddy. Note to self: Hire a caddy asap.

  8. EYIII

    Aug 4, 2017 at 9:24 am

    JP will find another bag no problem. Guy is a good looper. Been on the biggest stages, Ryder Cups etc…To be honest, it’s surprising how long some of these caddie/player combo’s last. You spend more time with your caddie than you do with your spouse/significant other. It’s just expected that things will get tense or spats will happen. Tough when it is a friend though.

  9. Chris B

    Aug 3, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Did I read somewhere that he missed clubbed him on one hole at the open. It sounds strange to me. He doesn’t seem to like anyone sharing the credit, I’m still convinced that’s why he got rid of Chubby Chandler.

  10. Matt-78

    Aug 3, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    I agree with the above comments, that Rory’s statement is not consistent with him then putting his friend on the bag. He basically said he switched caddies because he is hard on caddies and doesn’t want to be hard on a friend. And then hires a good friend. I think he is simply being nice to his previous caddie. He doesn’t trust him anymore. Hence, why he was being hard on him. Rory just doesn’t want to throw him under the buss and hurt his chances of being picked up by another pro. That is my $0.02 and I could be completely wrong!

  11. Brian

    Aug 3, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Getting harder and harder to root for this guy……

  12. TexasSnowman

    Aug 2, 2017 at 11:18 pm

    The more I hear of/from Rory, the less I like.

    • Oldplayer

      Aug 4, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      Agree with you and the others that are feeling dislike for Rory. Sounds more and more like a selfish a-hole who won’t take responsibility for his bad behavior.

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Monday’s Photos from the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California.

Tiger Woods, who has won eight times at Torrey Pines, will make his first start in a full-field PGA Tour event since his spinal fusion surgery. The last we saw of Woods was in the 18-player Hero World Challenge where he finished T9, and showed that he could be healthy for 72 holes.

Jon Rahm, who’s now ranked No. 2 in the Official World Golf Rankings, is the defending champion at the Farmers, and he also won last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. He’s joined in the field by notables Hideki Matsuyama (No. 5), Justin Rose (No. 6), Rickie Fowler (No. 7), Jason Day (No. 14) and Phil Mickelson.

Enjoy our photos from the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open below!

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Tour Rundown: Rahm gets win No. 2 and goes to world No. 2

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Week two of the 2018 calendar season added events on the PGA Champions and European tours. The PGA caravan left Hawaii for California and found its first playoff of 2018, just as the Champions Tour reached the islands. The Euros teed it up in Dubai, and the Web.Com Tour stayed in the Bahamas for a second week. With an Asian Tour event in Singapore, the globe’s eyes were once again on professional golf. Time for Tour Rundown at warp speed!

Rahm continues to build career with win at CareerBuilder Challenge

For all of the final round, it looked like Jon Rahm would pull away for a 4-stroke victory. His driving was impeccable and his irons were dialed in. His putting stroke looked sound, but some of the birdies simply did not nest. Throughout the four-hole playoff with Andrew Landry, it seemed as if Rahm was destined to lose. Somehow, he persevered and won.

Rahm’s patience pays off with second PGA Tour win 

How many edges of holes were singed with putts and chips by Jon Rahm down the stretch? At least four, not counting the playoff. Fortunately for the Basque, only Andrew Landry made enough of a move to track him down temporarily. Rahm played like the 3rd-ranked player should, and now he’s the world No. 2 player. Perhaps the fact that he couldn’t or didn’t separate himself from his pursuers, yet had enough weaponry to pull out a victory, mattered more than a runaway triumph. Yet golf is a funny game. The only fairway Rahm missed in extra time came on the 4th hole. Despite that errant tee ball and his misses on the first three playoff holes, Rahm was able to drain the only birdie of the playoff and walk away a champion.

See the clubs Jon Rahm used to win

Landry and others made the most of their opportunities

Andrew Landry showed more gumption than anyone anticipated. The 2016 first-round leader of the U.S. Open stayed around even longer this week. A 72nd-hole birdie brought him to 22-under par and a tie with Rahm. The Arkansas alumnus drove the ball straight and far on each of the playoff holes, and never once sniffed a bogey. His irons brought him within birdie range but, like Rahm, he could not find the proper combination of line and speed. In the end, Landry missed last and settled (if such a term might be used) for a runner-up finish.

Fleetwood greets 2018 with title defense at Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Tommy Fleetwood looks for all the world to be a millenial hipster with his free-flowing hair and his strands of beard. In absolute contrast, he is equal parts passion and cold blood. When opportunity beckons, he doesn’t look away. Given the slightest opportunity to defend his 2017 Abu Dhabi title, Fleetwood assented and took charge.

How Fleetwood dispatched Fisher and the rest

Through 9 holes of Sunday’s final round, the tag for Tommy Fleetwood’s title defense percolated as He gave an admirable effort. Nine holes and six birdies later, that tag line had changed to How in the name of all that is known did he defend his title? And yet, there was Fleetwood with the fourth European Tour title of his career and third in the past dozen months. When Fleetwood needed a great drive, he got it. When he didn’t hit a great drive, he came through with a stellar approach. When his approach was off, he drained a long putt. And for good measure, he hit a wonderful pitch at the 18th, nestling the ball 5 feet for birdie, and made that. The end result was a 2-stroke margin of victory over the runner-up, Ross Fisher.

What is it about Ross Fisher?

Ross Fisher is eternally composed. Not like his countryman Colin Montgomerie (more on him later), who wore every disappointment like a Halloween mask. Yet, the two share a certain sad penchant for missing opportunities. Last October, Fisher wasn’t going to catch Tyrell Hatton in St. Andrews, but he was chasing immortality. He had a 25-foot putt for the first 59 at The Old Course…and missed. He had a 4-foot putt for the first 60 at the Old Course…and missed. He broke the course record with his 61, but, you know. Fisher has an 0-5 record in European Tour playoffs. On Sunday, he was victimized by Fleetwood’s marvelous back 9 of 30 strokes, but by his own inability to gather the fruits of opportunity. Case in point: Fisher made a long and testy putt for bogey on the par-5 10th, a hole that many birdied. Rather than use it as a springboard to return to his coach on the birdie train, he floundered with four pars and one bogey over his next five holes.

Kelly wins at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

Jerry Kelly earned the 2017 PGA Tour Champions rookie of the year award, on the strength of consistent play and his first two tour titles. On Day 3 of the 2018 season, he added to his victory total with a 1-stroke win over Colin Montgomerie. A 2-stroke swing on 18 decided the fate of both…here’s how!

How Kelly klaimed the championship

For fans of Hideki Matsuyama and his deceptive reaction to fantastic shots, Mr. Kelly is guilty of the same on well-struck putts. He drops his putter from one hand and slumps his shoulders after mid-range putts. All the while, the ball is tracking toward the hole, and usually drops. Kelly played a fine round on Saturday, with 5 birdies and 1 eagle. It might have been the sole bogey of the round, on No. 16, that ignited his hockey-bred fire. The miscue allowed Colin Montgomerie to take a 1-shot lead into the final 2 holes, but Kelly’s birdie on No. 18 brought him the title. How’s that?

How Monty lost his opportunity

We forget how difficult it is to hold a lead in any event, at any juncture. Colin Montgomerie never figured the recipe out in major championships on the regular tour, but he had it down, for the most part, in regular tour events. On the Champions Tour, he has been quite solid, winning six times as a senior in the U.S. and five times in Europe. In the third round at Hualalai, Monty’s most reliable club betrayed him at the least opportune time. A drive into a fairway bunker at the last hole left him 100 yards to the green. He flew the putting surface with his approach and played an indifferent flop shot to 7 feet for par and a playoff. His effort was off the mark and the title slipped from his grasp.

Sergio’s Singapore Open

Despite this unexpected result, Sergio Garcia opened the 2018 season with a victory in Singapore. We’ll run down what he did right.

Sergio and Singapore on a Sunday

The #SingOpen2018 and @TheSergioGarcia made a perfect match on an extended final day. Wet weather forced a last-day completion of Round 3, and most golfers played more than 20 holes on the final day. Garcia stormed from behind with 66-68 over those final 36 holes to wrest the lead from Danthai Boonma of Thailand. Nine birdies and 1 bogey over that stretch of two rounds finished the task for the Spaniard, who looks to defend his 2017 Masters title in the spring.

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The battle for second ended in a tie

With Garcia separating himself from the peloton, attention turned to Boonma and cast for the runner-up resolution. After three stellar rounds (70-68-65), Boonma stumbled in Round 4 with 73, finishing in a tie for 4th with countryman Jazz Janewattananond. Satoshi Kodaira of Japan and South Africa’s Shaun Norris each birdied the final hole to finish tied for second at 9-under, 5 blows behind the champion.

Hello, World for Sungjae Im at Web.Com Opener

Sungjae Im, all of 19 years of age and pegging it in his first Web.Com event ever, gave us a Hello-World moment with a closing 65 and a 4-shot win over Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz. How did the young Korean pro flu powder his way to the top of the podium? We’re asking ourselves the same question

How Im became I’m The Champ

Im entered the final round of the Great Exuma Classic in a tie with Ortiz, but eyes were on proven winners like Rhein Gibson, Steve Marino and Erik Compton. Sungjae Im went out in Round 4 and played perfect golf. He had 4 birds on his outward half, then seized the trophy by both handles with 3 more chirps on holes 14 to 16. Simply put, there was nothing that Ortiz or any other entrant could do, beyond bow and salute the victor.

How Ortiz and the others took the shock

Carlos Ortiz did what he had to do during Tuesday’s final round. He played a solid round, minus-3 with 5 birds and 2 bogies. He stayed ahead of Gibson and all the others, but would have needed to turn his bogies into birdies to tie Im atop the board. Rhein Gibson began round four like a boss, with birdies on 5 of the first 6 holes. He reached 8-under and looked like the eventual winner. The engine sputtered, and it was 1-birdie-1-bogey-10-pars the rest of the way. Gibson would have needed 10-under on the day to tie for the trophy, but with a few more birdies along the way, would he have frightened Im? Who knows!

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Wednesday’s Photos from the 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge at the TPC Stadium Course at PGA West (7,113 yards, par 72) in La Quinta, California.

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The field this week is headlined by Jon Rahm, who’s currently ranked No. 3 in the Official World Golf Rankings after his second-place finish at the 2018 Sentry Tournament of Champions two weeks ago. Joining him in the field are notables John Daly, Brian Harman, last week’s Sony Open champion Patton Kizzire, Phil Mickelson, Jimmy Walker and Bubba Watson.

Defending-champion Hudson Swafford notched his first career victory at the 2017 CareerBuilders Challenge, where he won by one stroke over Adam Hadwin. He’ll be back in the field this year to defend his title.

Check out our photos from the 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge below!

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