Friday 25 May 2018

Rory McIlroy speaks to the media but keeps one important topic off limit - his caddie issue

Rory McIlroy. Photo: PA
Rory McIlroy. Photo: PA
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Basil Fawlty, the owner of 'Fawlty Towers' of vintage television fame, would have appreciated the 'don't mention the war' edict in Rory McIlroy's media engagement on Monday.

McIlroy was speaking on a conference call to publicise the Dell Technologies Championship, the second of the FedEx Cup playoffs which will be played at the TPC Boston from September 1-4.

As the winner of the tournament last year, and the defending FedEx Cup champion, McIlroy spoke to media members on all subjects bar one - the split with caddie JP Fitzgerald was off the agenda.

We await today's press conference at Firestone CC in Arkon, Ohio, for McIlroy to discuss that significant change to his backroom team, and to hear more about his plans for a replacement.

Emotional

Whether the caddie issue is a storm in a teacup from McIlroy's perspective, or an emotional parting of the ways, or something in between, the four-time Major champion did reveal his desire to make something good happen very soon.

Tomorrow he tees off in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and is priming his game for the US PGA championship at Quail Hollow next week.

"The year hasn't panned out the way I've wanted it to, so I find myself somewhere in the fifties (53rd) in the FedEx Cup right now, but I know more than anyone that can change over the course of a few weeks, especially with how the playoffs are, and how much you can vault up those standings with a good week.

"But there is a sense of urgency. Like, there's two big weeks coming up here before the FedExCup playoffs, and I want to play well, and I feel like I've started to turn a corner with how I played at the Open," said McIlroy.

The prospect of winning a fifth Major at Quail Hollow is a tantalising prospect for McIlroy.

"I'm excited. I feel like I've been going for a fifth Major for a long time so I think it's about time I stepped up and won one.

"But yeah, I'm excited to go back to Quail Hollow. Quail Hollow is one of those courses that, as I said, I've had a lot of success on in the past.

"I've played well there basically every time I've went. I've had a couple of wins in Charlotte and a few other top-tens.

"I've won a couple of Wanamaker trophies, (US PGA Championship). It would be nice to make that a hat-trick. So I'm excited for that," he said.

First on the agenda is today's press conference where McIlroy is expected to announce that Harry Diamond, a long-time friend and former amateur international golfer, will carry his bag for the next few weeks.

After that, McIlroy has four rounds, starting tomorrow, in elite company which includes recently-crowned Open champion Jordan Spieth and world number one Dustin Johnson, at Firestone, where he won the Bridgestone event in 2014.

That was his most recent appearance in the tournament, and he went on from there to win the US PGA at Valhalla, his fourth Major.

"I think this will be a big week for me in Akron just to get myself ready and prepared, and the last time I played at Akron I was able to win, so a lot of good vibes coming up in the next few weeks," said McIlroy.

Pádraig Harrington and Seamus Power are also in PGA Tour action this week. They play in the Barracuda Championship, a modified Stableford event, in Reno, Nevada.

Irish Independent

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