Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Golf

Who will be Rory McIlroy's next caddie? All you need to know about the favourites

The odds on all the top men tipped to take over from JP Fitzgerald

By Gareth Hanna

The guessing game about the identity of Rory McIlroy's next caddie is well under way.

Rumours are rife that McIlroy's best friend and former Irish amateur international Harry Diamond will pick up the bag at this weekend's WGC Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone and next week's USPGA Championship.

But longer-term, who are the bookies tipping to take over from JP Fitzgerald, who has reportedly been sacked?

Harry Diamond 5/4

The Belvoir Park golfer was best man at Rory's wedding. He won the 2012 West of Ireland Championship and played at the Irish Open in 2012 as an amateur. He has also caddied for McIlroy before at the Irish Open in 2005 during a practice round when the then 16-year-old McIlroy was just making a name for himself on the world golf scene. They were partnered again at Augusta in 2011 for the Par 3 contest at the Masters and at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2014. Should Diamond pick up the bag again this weekend, he is highly fancied to become McIlroy's third permanent caddie of his professional career.

Harry Diamond

Jonathan Smart 5/4

Danny Willett's former partner has major-winning experience. He was on the bag when Willett won the 2016 Masters - and the caddie was even credited with the decision to take a three wood instead of driver on the final hole. The pair first got together in 2010 but a downturn in form after that big victory last year saw the partnership 'fizzle out' according to the player. A dispute at the RBC Heritage in April this year was the final straw and the pair split. Smart is now joint favourite to pick up McIlroy's bag.

Billy Foster 6/1

There are other reports that suggest McIlroy could be ready to snatch Lee Westwood's bagman Billy Foster. He has plenty of experience as he has been a caddy for 34 years and has been on the bag of the likes of Seve Ballesteros and Darren Clarke. He caddied for Clarke at the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club. Could he again partner a Northern Irish golfer?

Caddie Billy Foster

Jim 'Bones' Mackay 8/1

The other huge player-caddie split this season involved Phil Mickelsen and his long-term bagman Bones. The pair had been together for 25 years until they mutually parted ways at the end of June. Englishman Bones caddied for Mickelsen in all five of his major victories. He is another of the sport's big-name caddies linked with the job.

Joe LaCava 10/1

The American's list of former players is fairly impressive. Fred Couples, Davis Love, Dustin Johnson. Oh, and Tiger Woods. He helped the former world number one past Jack Nicklaus' total tour wins record of 73. He took up Woods' bag in 2011 after the split with Steve Williams and has been the legend's number one caddie since. The job, however, hasn't been overly taxing in recent years with Woods out through injury. News came out last year that LaCava had turned down other offers to remain with Woods but could he now be tempted to switch to Rory?

Tiger Woods celebrates with his caddie Joe LaCava after his two-stroke victory at the 2013 World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.

Michael Doran 10/1

Another veteran caddie, Doran has been in the game for all but three decades. He, too, has worked with Darren Clarke as well as a host of other top European players. Westwood, Rose, Bjorn, Howell, Donald - you name them, he's worked for them. Room for one more on that list?

Ricky Elliott 16/1

The Portrush man joined the ranks of his home town's major winners when he helped Bruce Koepka to US Open success earlier this season. The 40 year-old took home a healthy £158,000 for that week's work. An Ulster Boys' and Ulster Youth Championship winner, Elliott knows his way around a golf course. He played college golf for the University of Toledo in Ohio but, as he said after Koepka's success, he "sucked as a pro." Could he be tempted to move to McIlroy and forge a Northern Irish dream team?

Portrush man Ricky Elliott

Niall Horan or Tiger Woods 300/1

As a wise man once said: "If it's there, I'll give you the money myself."

The Rest of the Candidates

There are plenty more outside bets - here are all the odds.

Player-caddie partnerships are difficult to blend, and former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley said the choice of McIlroy's next caddie will require careful consideration.

"The difficulty he's got now is choosing the next one. It's a huge role a caddie plays nowadays. He's going to have to choose very carefully," said McGinley.

"It's not just about giving you yardages, it's about being able to bond off the course and spend time together socially."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph