Murphy questions McIlroy’s Diamond partnership

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Rory McIlroy and Harry Diamond (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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Former European Tour professional Gary Murphy believes that it might take a change in the caddie department to resurrect the Major ambitions of Rory McIlroy.

Speaking on Tuesday’s Off The Ball, The K Club professional was reacting to another Grand Slam miss for McIlroy when his chances of winning disappeared before they began in an opening round of 75 at Augusta. Many observers have questioned whether McIlroy’s partnership with best friend Harry Diamond is the best fit for the world number four and although they’ve had unquestionable success in the three years they’ve been together, Murphy remains unconvinced that the best man at McIlroy’s wedding is the best man to help him add to his four Major titles.

“From what I can see from watching in and walking around with them, Harry probably needs to be a lot stronger,” Murphy told Joe Molloy. “Does he [Rory] listen if he’s too strong? Does it affect Rory? It’s trying to find that balance. They’ve had a really good run together, there’s no denying that, but maybe if he freshened up? I don’t think he needs to get someone like a Stevie Williams because they won’ t get on but maybe a job share could be something to look at. We’re talking about tiny margins for him – a career Grand Slam. But it doesn’t matter how successful you are, every relationship gets stale on Tour.”

The question was put to Murphy whether or not it would be unfair to lay so much blame at Diamond’s door given some of the poor shot-making of McIlroy – think off the first at Portrush last year where pressure told at the Open, or duck hooking into the trees on 13 followed by a watery grave on 16 on the back nine of his opening Masters round last Friday. However as much as Diamond can’t hit the shots for McIlroy, and given there’s undoubtedly a mental battle going on amid the errors, Murphy is adamant that one of the most important roles of the caddie is to empower his charge with the belief to execute the shots, something McIlroy’s game has been lacking in the heat of Major championship battle of late.

“If you look back to Portrush last year on the Saturday with Shane Lowry and his caddie Bo, think how much he jockeyed Shane to be fully committed to understand the decision and be able to execute. The roll of the caddie is enormous,” Murphy noted.

“Everyone will talk about the team now behind players and their strength and conditioning coaches – they’ve got everything. That’s all required and has to be performed and executed in the modern game because it is a different sport now compared to what it was.

“But once you go out across that white line, there are only two people out there who will win the tournament: the guy executing the shots, obviously, but the message being told to the player is what helps him execute the shots. It is human nature that Rory will fight indecision and doubt for the four-and-a-half hours he is out there on the golf course. So, is the message coming from the caddie to help that coming across? Is it being told in the right way? I’m not really that sure that it is.”

The forensic examination into McIlroy’s performance is a reflection of just how much he is thought of around the world. Such is the height of his talent, it’s easy to forget that McIlroy enjoyed a top-5 at the Masters and moved up a place to fourth in the world rankings, something we’d be waxing lyrical about if it was Shane Lowry and not McIlroy achieving the feat. But there-in lies the frustration. It will be seven years when the Masters rolls around in April since McIlroy last tasted success at a Major but Murphy believes it would be impossible to fathom the 31-year old not doubling his four-major tally in time.

“When Rory is playing his A-game, it is the best in the world,” Murphy said. “This is a ruthless sport though and the margins are so fine. I don’t think though that Rory has to do an awful lot to get back to World Number One and winning another three or four majors easily. It is inconceivable to think that he will not win eight or nine majors in his career – without a doubt.”

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13 responses to “Murphy questions McIlroy’s Diamond partnership”

  1. Colm Spain avatar
    Colm Spain

    When Rory won the Open in 2014, the focus he had before and during that final round has been missing ever since.
    I think he needs to block out what’s going on around him, be a bit like Tiger was in the early days, like Faldo was, take no prisoners.

  2. Ralph Wadlinger avatar
    Ralph Wadlinger


  3. Dick Walsh avatar
    Dick Walsh

    If I were Rory I would be thinking long and hard about what Gary is saying.

  4. Colm avatar

    There is EVERY chance Rory, to my regret, will NOT win 8 or 9 Majors – I said 5 years ago that he is not a good enough putter to win the Masters. Not a big bunch of poor putters win at Augusta………..

  5. Kevin Gallagher avatar
    Kevin Gallagher

    It’s very easy to speculate and opinionate with best intentions. Rory is a mature young man and if you listen to his interviews he is intelligent and honest about his life and feelings. Everyone is speculating about his performance , don’t forget the huge level of talent in pga tour now. Nobody is winning multiple majors and to expect him to necessarily win the masters is daft. If it happens great if not he’s still a brilliant sportsman and ambassador for Irish golf and the sport in general. If he needs to freshen up with new caddy or coach he and he alone can decide . As I said he’s an intelligent guy let’s just leave him alone he’s well capable of his own decision making. I’m sure Harry Diamond is only too aware of his role and will have ironed out his modus operandi with Rory. He has a life to live too, over and above caddying. Whatever happens let’s just wish them the best. Life goes on Green jacket or not??

  6. Adamski avatar

    @ Kevin Gallagher – agree Rory has intelligence but his failure to win the Masters has little to do with the talent levels of other players. He has made too many terrible decisions and hit too many terrible shots. His approach play simply isn’t as sharp as it needs to be although granted his putting does seem to have improved. Not hitting driver for example on 13 on Sunday was simply unbelievable for the greatest driver the world has ever seen. Where was the fire and fight to go eagle, birdie, eagle through 13-15? What’s with the fades? The kid’s head isn’t on straight and a real pro caddie could help considerably. But he needs to commit himself totally to winning and most of us (watching from afar of course) don’t sense that in him.

  7. Lia avatar

    Rory needs to concentrate on his is seriously letting him down.

  8. Joseph+Dreitler avatar

    Maybe he doesn’t want the incredible pressure on himself to win a major. Has he been a serious factor in any major since August 2014? Seems to me he has shot himself out of contention in most and then played well but had no realistic chance of winning. He’s set for life and appears happy with his life off the golf course. Sure he needs a real caddie but does he need a sports psychologist if he really wants the 4 days of being in a pressure cooker of a major? At age 19-25 perhaps he lived for such pressure but maybe he doesn’t really want it or know how to deal with it anymore. Most very successful golfers over a long time are narcissistic or selfish to a fault. He doesn’t seem to fit that description.

  9. Ray Smith avatar
    Ray Smith

    Player palmer vicenzo casper brewer snead hogan all won the masters all had local senior augusta caddies for that week only surely they could not all be wromg.Maybe Rory should do the same.

  10. Darren avatar

    Whatever about the debate surrounding Rory and his caddie, one aspect of modern golf commentary I will never understand, is the “its inconceivable that he won’t go onto win multiple more majors” mantra. In my very humble opinion, it’s entirely conceivable that not just Rory, but Dustin, Justin, Bryson, Rahm,Rickie, Xander.. or indeed any player.. might not ever win their first, or another! There is incredible depth in professional golf right now, and it’s only going to get deeper! Players like Morikawa and Wolff are stepping out of college golf and are immediately capable of winning on the PGA tour, including majors. I think there’s every chance that this time next year we’ll be talking about at least two “new” names. It doesn’t seem like it’s that long ago that Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and others, were “destined” to win multiple majors. Gary Murphy, Paul McGinley, John McHenry and most of their American counterparts were all fantastic players, and have a knowledge and understanding of the game that amateurs like myself can only dream about, but it would be refreshing if a respected figure put it out there that there is no guarantee of anything, for anyone, in the cut throat world of professional golf. There is no doubt that the top ranked players mentioned above have a far better chance of winning majors than those ranked below them.. but that’s just what it is.. a chance!

  11. Eamonn Kenny avatar
    Eamonn Kenny

    This is the most ridiculous article ever. Your f’in Rory mcilroy. Remember that. Remember who was his caddie. Remember it was a Thursday. Remember Fridays used to be the horrible day. If you look a little more closely you will see he plays himself out of most tournaments after long delays… Royal Portrush…. Oh, Rory, you shouldn’t have hit the ball 3 yards so far left. Oh Rory, you shouldn’t have hit the ball 1 yard too far into the gorse. What caddie can fix those 2 shots on hole one…? This is golf, and if you are nervous even the greats can miss. Mr Johnson (Mr. 20 under) 3 putt on 18 in the US open. So what changed… His control of nerve changed. Rory is 31 years old and won his majors with little competition. Things are different now. He’s the best on his day, but can’t put 4 rounds together. 3 he can do, but currently not four. Maybe he needs a different caddie on Thursdays!

  12. Philip Hanna avatar
    Philip Hanna

    I have been saying it all along Rory needs a top caddie , I see hardly any communication between them on the course compared to DJ and his brother who are in constant conversation which is the first thing that’s needed , it’s the skill of a good caddie to keep you focused and certain , I don’t see Harry offering either of those .

  13. Gerry avatar

    I agree with everything been said about a good Caddy. There never is any serious discussion between Rory, and Harry. He needs somebody affirmative, to give him definite info, when to play safe, and to attack. Distance control with his wedges, and short irons is something he has to learn to play. Look at DJ,he was average with his wedges, until he got some excellent coaching, and this has brought him all his success. I can’t understand how McIlroy has not rectified this problem, as it is really destroying the rest of his game. In a nutshell: A new strong Caddy, who he will listen to, and a good coach who will sort out his approach play with wedges, and short irons. Get these done, and I guarantee McIlroy will be back at the top next year, with a least 1Major,hopefully the Masters.

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