The news that Rory McIlroy has split with his longtime caddie, J.P. Fitzgerald, the man on the bag for all four of Rory’s major wins, is still raw.
We now know that the Northern Irishman’s best-friend, Harry Diamond, will be by his side for the next two tournaments; WCG Bridgestone Invitational at Akron and the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.
The big question now is who will be the new, permanent member of the world No. 4’s team. Here at the most realistic chances (odds via Paddy Power):
Harry Diamond 8/13
McIlroy has only ever had one caddie throughout his professional career and doesn’t seem the type to switch whenever he hits poor form, yet who saw him dropping JP? With Diamond on the bag in the short-term, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see him a permanent catch.
Lifelong friends since growing up together in Holywood, Northern Ireland, Diamond was said to be the Ulsterman’s best man at his recent wedding to Erica Stoll.
This wouldn’t be a new partnership either. When first breaking onto the scene at 2005 Irish Open, it was best friend Diamond by the side of Rory. Similarly, in McIlroy’s rookie season on the European Tour in 2008 the pair teamed up.
Having your best friend on the bag clearly works; someone to keep you calm, crack a joke and even be firm at times. DJ has had brother Austin as caddie for his biggest wins, including the 2016 U.S. Open. Looking at more recent form, over the last 6 months, Tommy Fleetwood and Ian Finnis have had roaring success reaching the top-20 in the world. Danny Willett had his childhood friend, Johnathan Smart, on the bag for his Master’s triumph.
Diamond is a successful businessman, owning and managing a number of pubs and clubs in Belfast. So the real question is, is he willing to put his own life on hold for his friend?
Billy Foster 7/2
Consider him one of the best in the game. The Englishman has caddied for some of the biggest names out there, notably; Seve Ballesteros, Darren Clarke, Sergio Garcia and currently Lee Westwood.
It would be hard to split the pair up, having been together so long both fully committed to breaking Westwood’s major woes, but the chance for a fresh start with the world’s most talented golfer is hard to refuse, should Rory come knocking.
The pair took a notable break in 2012 with Foster nursing a knee injury but reunited they have shared good times at Ryder Cups and close runs at Major championships.
Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay 7/2
OK. This one is a slight stretch, but the timing couldn’t be any better with Bones splitting from Phil Mickelson after 25 years. On the downside, Bones just scored the gig as an on-course analyst for the Golf Channel and has sighted some minor health problems in 2017, having knee operations to relieve pain.
The pair could be the perfect fit. The Greller to his Spieth really, a caddie who is not afraid to talk back or push his alternatives and someone who is fully consumed with stats and carefully working out the player’s calculated options. This would prove vital in Rory’s course management trails on route to the career-grand slam.
Bones has won five major titles with Mickelson and over 40 PGA Tour events, he knows how to get the job done and has triumphed around Augusta twice.
Joe LaCava 6/1
The real deal. LaCava is up there with the greats on the pro-circuit but is currently stalling on the bag of another one of Rory McIlroy’s close friends, Tiger Woods.
Could a deal be struck between Tiger and Rory, having LaCava on the bag whilst the GOAT nurses his back?
Having a figure like LaCava by your side is hard to turn down, a strong experienced presence, who has previously caddied for Fred Couples and Dustin Johnson. McIlroy would be another firey golfer to tame and drill out results.
Steve Williams 14/1
Another top dog up for grabs. Williams has previously been bagman to Greg Norman and Tiger Woods from 1999-2011 and has recently gone into semi-retirement, but in an unusual agreement reappears for Adam Scott.
He has been on the bag for all the 2017 Majors with Scott as well as the AAM Scottish Open at the start of the month, an inconsistent partnership that the needs of a permanent move to Rory McIlroy could well break up.
Williams was a bulldozer for Tiger, clearing paths, shutting down fans and bashing down cameras, he could have the right vigilante exterior that McIlroy needs at this point in his career.
Similarly, the Aussie has also won around Augusta with fellow countryman Adam Scott in 2013.
Mick Doran 10/1
A very centre-field pick. Doran has been to great heights with many of Europe’s best talents and would be a very steady and solid pair of hands.
He currently is on the bag with Luke Donald, on the former world No1’s revival oath, but has also enjoyed successful stints with Justin Rose, Francesco Molinari, Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke, Victor Dubuisson, Thomas Bjorn and Camilo Villegas.
After reading the list, Mick isn’t afraid of a change nor afraid of being released only after a couple of years. A trusty servant who would gladly come running if Rory lay the groundwork.
Mike ‘Fluff’ Cowan 20/1
Now for the left-field pick. It would be a bold option to go for Jim Furyk’s long-time caddie, the pair has amassed a total of 14 PGA Tour victories together including the 2003 U.S. Open.
Forbes rank Cowan the sixth top-earning caddie on tour, banking over $700,000. With Furyk winning the FedEx Cup in 2010 and pocketing $8 million alone in 2014.
With Furyk’s game taking a back seat this season, and next, due to his 2018 Ryder Cup duties, it is almost the perfect timing for the seasoned veteran to jump on McIlroy’s back and offer him a wealth of experience.
Niall Horan 100/1
The pop-star has previous experience caddying for fellow countryman, McIlroy. Back at the 2015 Masters he caddied in the famous par-3 contest. For all we know that could have been a test to see how he coped with club selection and yardages. Did he pass? We’ll soon find out.
All that can be safely said, is that with the 1D star by his side, Rory’s game will only go in ‘one direction’…