Rory McIlroy Reportedly Sacks Long-time Caddie JP Fitzgerald
Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy has reportedly sacked long-time caddie JP Fitzgerald after nine years together on tour. According to Reuters, the 28-year-old will have a new man on the bag this week at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, before the US PGA Championship at one of the Northern Irishman's most favoured venues, Quail Hollow.
Hiring Fitzgerald in 2008, the pair enjoyed remarkable success, including those four majors, reaching world number one, and securing the lucrative Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup accolades. The Irish caddie has benefited hugely from that partnership, but had been the subject of criticism from sections of the media due to perceived failings, partiuclarly in the aftermath of McIlroy's collapse at the 2011 Masters Tournament.
The timing of this change will come as a surprise, not least because of the upcoming final major of the season, but also with the world number one being effusive in his praise for Fitzgerald at the Open Championship, who he credited in helping to overcome a disastrous start to the first round at Royal Birkdale. McIlroy ultimately finished in a tie for fourth.
It's been an inconsistent season for the most decorated player of his generation, who has battled injury and a number of alterations on and away from the course, including a much publicised equipment move and becoming a married man earlier this year. Splitting from Fitzgerald is just another of those shifts to add to the list.
The unnamed source who broke the news to Reuters didn't note who would take Fitzgerald's place on the bag, but it's fair to say that there won't be a shortage of potential candidates. The Dubliner was reported by Forbes to have earned $1.65 million last year from his role as McIlroy's caddie.
An opportunity to work for a player of that stature is a rare one, and it will be fascinating to see who takes over the role in the long-term, as Rory McIlroy's career officially enters a new era without the man by his side who had been there for almost a decade, essentially the entirety of the Ulsterman's professional career.
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