Tuesday 21 October 2014

Meet the men behind the success of Rory McIlroy

Published 12/08/2014 | 12:18

Back row, left to right: Brad-George Simpson, Michael Bannon, JP Fitzgerald, Paul McVeigh. Front row, left to right: Harry Diamond, Gerry McIlroy and Sean O'Flaherty
Back row, left to right: Brad-George Simpson, Michael Bannon, JP Fitzgerald, Paul McVeigh. Front row, left to right: Harry Diamond, Gerry McIlroy and Sean O'Flaherty

Meet the men behind the success of the world’s greatest golfer and one of the richest men is sport.

He has always had the perfect swing and raw talent, but Rory McIlroy has had to make tough decisions off the course recently to go that extra step in the world of golf.

He now has the temperament and mentality to go on and eclipse Tiger Woods and become the best golfer of a generation.

But it’s not all about McIlroy. He has surrounded himself by the right people who have guided him impeccably.

As McIlroy said himself: “They are the people that I confide in and the people that I can tell everything to, and it’s great to have a solid bunch of people like that around you that you can rely on.”

 

BRAD-GEORGE SIMPSON

McIlroy signed a high-profile deal with Nike in January last year reported to be worth a whopping €200m. It’s no surprise then that Nike representative Simpson is in Rory’s close circle.

Following the deal, McIlroy suffered a slump in form with many pointing to his new Nike golf clubs as the problem. Those issues are well and truly in the past as the Irishman has shot back to world number one.

MICHAEL BANNON - COACH

Bannon has been at McIlroy’s side all the way through.

It was the former Holywood professional who taught McIlroy from an early age and their relationship has blossomed.

“It's not just about the golf swing,” McIlroy said.  “It's about course management.  It's about strategy… When I was a teenager, even the early part of my career as a pro, it was all just about the technical stuff. Now that he travels with me a little bit more and he sees me play more on the golf course, our conversations are more about strategy or course management or hitting certain shots at the right time."

JP FITZGERALD - CADDIE

McIlroy had a big decision to make back in 2008 and he took the advice of Chubby Chandler to appoint JP Fitzgerald as his caddie. It’s one he has not regretted.

“JP has been on my bag since the middle of 2008 when I was 200th in the world. I’m now third,” said McIlroy a few years back.

“He’s a guy who’s been with me through all my five wins on tour. He’s been with me through some tough play-off losses, with me through everything. So if it’s not broke, you don’t fix it. I have a great relationship with JP. He’s become one of my closest friends over the past three years and it’s a combination I think is working very well.”

HARRY DIAMOND - FRIEND

Along with Rick McCormick and Mitchell Tweedie, Harry Diamond has been a close pal of McIlroy’s since the early days in Holywood.

Indeed, after missing the cut in last year’s British Open, McIlroy met up with the lads to get away from it all and clear his head.

“It’s something I haven’t done for a long time and something I will definitely do more often,” said McIlroy at the time. “It was needed.”

Diamond caddied for McIlroy at the par three contest at Augusta in 2011 when the pair shared a house with Tweedie and McCormick for the week.

GERRY McILROY – HIS DAD

Rory’s father had so much faith in his son that he placed a £50 bet that he would win a British Open title before he is 25 back when he was only a kid.

A talented golfer himself, Gerry McIlroy would often take his toddler son, in his stroller, to watch him hit balls at their local course. Dad later worked in the bar at the same Holywood course, one of the many jobs he took to support Rory’s budding amateur career.

“Rory’s parents, Rosie and Gerry, are the biggest reasons he is the way he is,” said Darren Clarke.

PAUL McVEIGH – CHEF

It’s not just trips to the gym that has McIlroy in such good shape.

McIlroy has bulked up and gained six pound in muscle recently. They say up to 80 per cent is diet and the rest is exercise. So McVeigh plays a vital role in making sure the best of food is prepared to fuel that valuable body.

SEAN O’FLAHERTY - MANAGER

McIlroy had a much publicised split with former management company Horizon Sports last year. O’Flaherty was working for Horizon back then but when Rory went his own way, he made the decision to bring O’Flaherty on board and he hasn’t looked back since.

O’Flaherty himself is a low handicap golfer and graduate of Trinity College who caddied for Stephen Browne on the tour.

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