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.