Rory McIlroy has handed childhood best friend Harry Diamond a gold-plated offer he really could not refuse to become his full-time caddy.
It is understood the four-time Major winning McIlroy has, after hundreds of job applications, offered to keep Diamond on the bag heading into the 2018 season.
It means Diamond will have to quit his job as manager of a number of Belfast and Bangor bars and travel the globe officially as McIlroy’s club and yardage advisor.
McIlroy split with long-time caddy J P Fitzgerald straight after this year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale and at the time McIlroy stated: “Sometimes to preserve a personal relationship you have to sacrifice a professional one.” The duo had worked together since 2008 after Ernie Els released Fitzgerald from caddying for the South African.
Scotland-born Gordon Faulkner who had been working for McIlroy through ISMs Andrew ‘Chubby’ Chandler, who was McIlroy’s manager at the time, suggested Fitzgerald would not take Rory ‘to the next level’. That level, as it turned out, included four Major victories, 18 other pro career wins and four Ryder Cup caps.
Diamond has been McIlroy’s best friend since their childhood days at Holywood Golf Club and was also best man earlier this year at McIlroy’s lavish Adare Manor wedding. He is a former Ireland international and Ulster inter-provincial player, and was on Rory’s bag as early as 2005 at the Irish Open and as recently as October 2014 at the Dunhill Links Championship when McIlroy was the World No.1.
Diamond, however, had been undecided if he would caddy full-time for McIlroy given his managerial role back home but the lure of life travelling the globe and working for a golfer who has already amassed $36.5m in his PGA Tour career would seem to have been far more tempting.
McIlroy said he had been “inundated” with caddie requests in August. “We’ve been inundated with people wanting to have a chance to carry the bag,” he told media. “I’ve been approached from a lot of different areas.”
The 28-year-old McIlroy will kick-start the New Year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January, the start of an unprecedented run of events leading up to the Masters in April.
McIlroy will remain in the UAE to compete in the Dubai Desert Classic a week after Abu Dhabi and ahead of a huge run of events on the North American continent.
All up, McIlroy could be contesting seven pre-Masters tournaments given he is expected to contest both the WGC – Mexico Championship and the WGC – Dell Match Play titles.
MIlroy will begin a run of three tournaments in as many weeks in the US when he again teams up with his father, Gerry to compete at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am from 8-11 February.
After his appearances at the Genesis Open in Los Angeles and Honda Classic near his home in Florida, McIlroy has also committed to the Valspar Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational in successive weeks in March, and also both in Florida.