McIlroy: Had to fire caddie to preserve friendship

By Will GrayAugust 2, 2017, 7:18 pm

AKRON, Ohio – Rory McIlroy revealed that his nine-year relationship with caddie J.P. Fitzgerald ended in a phone call last Tuesday.

McIlroy was coming off a T-4 finish at The Open, where he spoke of Fitzgerald’s pivotal role in turning his tournament around. But given time to reflect and with an important stretch of events upcoming, McIlroy decided it was time for a fresh perspective on the bag.

Rather than point to a single incident as the root cause, McIlroy explained Wednesday at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational that the dynamic between him and Fitzgerald had slowly deteriorated.

“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,” McIlroy said. “I 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 for making a wrong decision than being angry at him, and that was really why.”


WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


McIlroy explained that his relationship with Fitgerald had as many ups and downs as any other duo on Tour, but that there had been “probably just a few too many of those over the past year or so.” In a continuing effort to take more ownership of his game, McIlroy opted to cut ties with a man with whom he still plans to have a close bond off the course.

“I still consider J.P. one of my best friends, one of my closest friends,” McIlroy said. “But sometimes to preserve a personal relationship you might have to sacrifice a professional one, and that was sort of the decision that I came to in the end.”

Childhood friend Harry Diamond served as McIlroy’s best man in his April wedding, and McIlroy will have Diamond on the bag this week and at the PGA Championship. His long-term caddie plans remain unknown, though McIlroy didn’t rule out having Diamond as the permanent replacement – or even one day calling upon Fitzgerald once again.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen after these two weeks,” McIlroy said. “I’m going to have a week off between Quail Hollow and the first FedExCup playoff event in New York at Northern Trust, so potentially if something doesn’t work out, and Harry and I say, ‘OK, two weeks was enough but I need to find somebody else,’ I’ve got 10 days between the end of the PGA and the start of the Northern Trust to find someone.”

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

LPGA:

We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm