Darren Clarke has split with the caddie who helped him beak his major duck and lift the Open at Royal St George’s.
Bagman John Mulrooney got his marching orders after Clarke missed the cut in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship when he crashed to a nightmare 81 on Friday.
The pair have had a chequered history with Bray native Mulrooney revealing that he almost gave Clarke the sack the week before their famous Open win at Sandwich.
“We have had our ups and downs and we turned up here hardly speaking. Was I almost sacked? Well, he almost ended up getting the boot as well,” Mulrooney said after they fell out durng the previous week’s Scottish Open at Castle Stuart. “But that’s the way with caddying. Everybody goes through it. It’s the kind of game we are in.
“It is a very psychological game and when things don’t click and you misread each other sometimes, it is very easy to fall out.
“Caddies joke about the stuff that goes on when they talk in the caddies’ lounge. It’s hilarious afterwards, but it is not funny when it’s happening.
“We call it ‘The Madness’. Golfers get the madness. It’s the kind of game that can drive you mad.”
Clarke and Mulrooney have had their difference since July, notably at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf last year.
However, the Ulsterman was full of praise for a man who only got his bag at the last minute when Ricci Roberts went to the World Golf Hall of Fame induction of Ernie Els early last year when Clarke had hoped to have him in Mallorca.
Mulrooney was meant to caddie for David Howell and when the Englishman withdrew, he ended up on Clarke’s bag.
They went on to win the Iberdrola Open that week, ending Clarke’s three-year victory drought.
At Sandwich, Clarke paid tribute to his Irish bag man for his resilience in putting up with his moods.
Clarke said: “John has been fantastic. We had a tough week last week in Scotland where he didn’t quite know what to do whenever I was having a little bit of wobbly on Sunday.
“But he’s finally learnt and he knows a little bit better now, obviously a lot better now, as to what to say to me and how to deal with me.
“And this week has been absolutely fantastic. You know, he was spot on with his clubs. Everything that he did all week was very, very good.
“You know, it’s fantastic to have an Irish caddie for an Irish winner.”