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McIlroy defends Twitter response to Townsend

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Rory McIlroy refused to back down in his Twitter spat with television commentator Jay Townsend.

After making the cut at the Irish Open Friday, McIlroy told the media in Killarney, Ireland that he felt it necessary to stand up for his caddie.

Thursday, after Townsend suggested on Twitter that McIlroy should employ Steve Williams as his caddie instead of current bagman J.P. Fitzgerald, and called McIlroy’s course management “shocking,” the 22-year-old Northern Irishman responded by telling Townsend to “shut up” in a tweet.

McIlroy also called Townsend a “failed golfer” and said his “opinion means nothing.”

“It was one comment too far,” McIlroy told reporters of Townsend’s remarks.

“J.P. is one of my closest friends. I’ve had to deal with it for three years and not really say anything. He’s just kept at him and at him. I just had to say something.

“I don’t care if he criticizes me, I can take the criticism. J.P. can’t stand up for himself.

“It started in Switzerland back in 2008 and it was just one comment too far. J.P. has taken me from 200th in the world to major champion and fourth in the world.”

Townsend told Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” Friday that he tried to contact McIlroy through his agent, Chubby Chandler, but was unsuccessful. He said that he no longer wished to discuss the matter publicly.

For the tournament, McIlroy is six back of leader Marcel Siem, following his second-round 68.