By Brian Keogh
Rory McIlroy has sacked his caddie after just 14 months in the job.
The Holywood teenager, 19, parted company with Derry-born Londoner Gordon Faulkner after earning €43,542 in the Barclays Scottish Open on Sunday and securing his tour card
But he has picked up an even more experienced bagman in Dubliner JP Fitzgerald, who caddied for Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke before moving to Ernie Els last year.
Els gave Fitzgerald the sack two weeks ago and McIlroy has jumped at the chance to hire the Dubliner for the rest of the season.
The news is a blow to Faulkner, who started caddying for McIlroy when he was an amateur last year and helped him earn his tour card in just four starts.
Faulkner was recommended by McIlroy's ISM stablemate Darren Clarke, who used him when he played social golf at the exclusive Queenwood club in London.
With Faulkner on the bag, McIlroy has earned €268,357 from just 18 starts in his first full year on tour, moving to 76th on the money list to retain his card with three months of the season still to go.
McIlroy failed to qualify for this week's Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
Just 12 months ago, he played at Carnoustie as an amateur and made headlines around the world when he outscored Tiger Woods with the only bogey free round on the opening day.
He finished tied 42nd in the end and vowed to return this year.
But after failing to make it, he said: "I will still watch the Open on TV. I'd love to be there but I am not too worried. I have another 30 years of my career to play in the Open."