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.