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Golf: 'Build up of stuff' led to caddie sacking, McIlroy says

Golf - The 146th Open Championship - Royal Birkdale - Southport, Britain - July 23, 2017 Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy acknowledges the crowd on the 18th green after completing his final round REUTERS/Paul Childs
Golf - The 146th Open Championship - Royal Birkdale - Southport, Britain - July 23, 2017 Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy acknowledges the crowd on the 18th green after completing his final round REUTERS/Paul Childs

(Reuters) - Rory McIlroy sacked his caddie of nine years after "a build up of stuff" over the past year or so, the four-times major winner said on Wednesday.

McIlroy parted company with J.P. Fitzgerald last week after the British Open and will have his best friend Harry Diamond on his bag for the next two weeks.

"Player/caddie relationships have their ups and downs. There was probably a few too many of those over the past year or so," McIlroy told reporters in Ohio on the eve of the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational.

"I’d been putting this line out there for a while that I’m trying to take ownership of my game a little bit more and trying to take more responsibility.

"It was one of those times I felt I needed to mix something up a bit ... It was just a build up of stuff that I felt I needed to make that change."

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman said he decided to use Diamond this week at Firestone Country Club and at next week's major, the PGA Championship in Charlotte because he was looking for familiarity.

He has not made a long-term decision about who to use after that.

"I just needed someone that knew me and that's why I took Harry for the next couple of weeks."

McIlroy, who won his last major at the 2014 PGA Championship, employed Fitzgerald in 2008 shortly after turning professional.

The pair enjoyed a brilliantly successful partnership as McIlroy took over from Tiger Woods as the game's dominant force and became world number one.

At the British Open at Royal Birkdale earlier this month, McIlroy again heaped praise on Fitzgerald, who delivered some blunt words to his boss after the Northern Irishman started the tournament with a string of bogeys.

After fighting back to shoot one-over 71 in the first round, McIlroy told reporters that Fitzgerald had done a "great job".

McIlroy eventually finished equal fourth in what turned out to be the swan song for Fitzgerald.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Toby Davis)

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