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McIlroy confirms caddie split

84   //    02 Aug 2017, 23:37 IST
rorymcilroyjpfitzgerald - Cropped
Rory McIlroy with J.P. Fitzgerald

Rory McIlroy has confirmed his split from long-time caddie JP Fitzgerald.

Speculation gathered pace this week that McIlroy had brought an end to his nine-year relationship with Fitzgerald.

A spokesperson for the world number four revealed to Omnisport that McIlroy would address the situation before the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational and the Northern Irishman told a news conference on the eve of the event that he had parted ways with Fitzgerald.

"Sometimes to preserve a personal relationship you have to sacrifice 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 quarter 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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