McIl­roy, Fitzger­ald part ways

Daily Trust - - DIGEST -

Rory McIl­roy has parted ways with his long­time cad­die, J.P. Fitzger­ald, ac­cord­ing to a Reuters re­port cit­ing an un­named source.

McIl­roy’s man­ager, Sean O’Fla­herty, said in a text to ESPN that “Rory will talk Wed­nes­day and an­swer all ques­tions” dur­ing a me­dia ses­sion in ad­vance of the WGC-Bridge­stone In­vi­ta­tional in Akron, Ohio.

Fitzger­ald has been on McIl­roy’s bag for nine years, in­clud­ing four ma­jor cham­pi­onships. It was just less than two weeks ago, dur­ing the open­ing round of The Open at Royal Birk­dale, when McIl­roy cred­ited Fitzger­ald with giv­ing him a stern re­minder of who he is af­ter open­ing with five birdies in the first six holes.

“He’s had to do it a few times, and he’s never afraid to do that,” McIl­roy said that day af­ter ral­ly­ing to shoot 71. He even­tu­ally tied for fourth.

“I feel to­day it helped a lot more than at other times be­cause I needed some­thing,” McIl­roy said. “It wasn’t that I couldn’t look within my­self; I was try­ing to look within my­self. But J.P. kept me pos­i­tive out there, so that was very much ap­pre­ci­ated.”

Spec­u­la­tion about Fitzger­ald’s em­ploy­ment with McIl­roy has long been a sub­ject of con­jec­ture, dat­ing to the 2011 Mas­ters where McIl­roy shot a fi­nal-round 80 to blow a third-round lead. He re­bounded to win the U.S. Open, his first ma­jor, two months later.

If the re­port is true, the tim­ing is odd as McIl­roy is re­turn­ing to a place this week where he won in 2014. Next week he will be at Quail Hol­low, site of the PGA Cham­pi­onship, where he twice has won the PGA Tour event played at the venue.

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