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New (temporary) caddie on the bag for McIlroy in Dubai

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Rory McIlroy will have a fill-in caddie this week at the DP World Tour Championship as the world No. 2 looks to close out his year in style.

McIlroy’s usual looper, Harry Diamond, has the week off after his wife, Claire, gave birth to the couple’s first child on Nov. 11. In Diamond’s place is another of McIlroy’s longtime friends, Niall O’Connor, a former international rugby player, as first reported by Golfweek.

O’Connor at least has some experience carrying the bag for a member of the McIlroy family, having caddied for Rory’s father, Gerry, at the 2018 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

The DP World Tour Championship is the European Tour’s season-ending event. Though McIlroy has been mathematically eliminated from winning the Race to Dubai, there is plenty of motivation this week. There’s a first-place check of $3 million, McIlroy could match his career best with five wins this calendar year, and another title would slice even deeper into Brooks Koepka’s advantage in the world rankings.

McIlroy is coming off a win in his last start, at the WGC-HSBC Champions.