Rory McIlroy said he parted ways with caddie J.P. Fitzgerald in order to 'preserve a personal relationship' with his bagman of nine years.
Speaking ahead of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the four-time major confirmed the news broken by Reuters on Monday morning that he'd parted ways with his Fitzgerald, who has been on the bag for almost the entirety of his professional career.
"It’s a big change," said McIlroy. "J.P. has been a huge part of my life for the last decade. We started in July 2008 and went all the way to July this year.
"We had a lot of great times on and off the golf course. I still consider J.P. one of my best friends, one of my closest friends, but sometimes to preserve a personal relationship you have to sacrifice a professional one and that was the decision that I came to in the end.
"I was getting very hard on him on the golf course and I don’t want to treat somebody, anybody, like that. I felt like it was the right thing to do and I don’t think there was any good time to do it.
“It was a very tough decision to make but I thought I'm coming to Firestone, I have four tournament rounds to either get to know someone or get used to having someone else on my bag going into the last major of the year, and that's really it.
“I thanked JP for everything. JP knows how much I think of him, how much he means to me, what we've achieved together, and it wasn't an easy decision but at the end of the day I felt like it was a change that I needed to make because it got to the point where if I didn't play a good shot or if I made a wrong decision, I was getting more frustrated at him than I was at myself.
“I would much rather be angry at myself and angry at myself for making a wrong decision than being angry at him, and that was really why.”
The news that McIlroy had parted ways with Fitzgerald came just over a week after he publicly praised the caddie for kicking him into gear at the Open at Royal Birkdale, where he bounced back after being five-over-par through six holes to finish T4.
“I didn’t have as much belief in myself as I should have and J.P. gave me a good talking to on the sixth tee box,” said McIlroy. “He reminded me who I was, basically.
"He said, ‘You’re Rory McIlroy – what are you doing? Or what the f*** are you doing?’. At that point, I sort of mumbled but it helped – it definitely helped. You’ve got to be positive and he did a great job."
McIlroy's best friend, Harry Diamond, is on the bag this week at Akron and also at next week's PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.