McIlroy sparkles with Diamond at Akron

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Harry Diamond and Rory McIlroy on the fairway during Thursday’s opening round at Firestone

Rory McIlroy began life without JP Fitzgerald with a three-under-par 67 alongside new caddie Harry Diamond at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.

The world number four ended a nine-year partnership with Fitzgerald this week, with his friend Diamond taking over as bagman, at least for the short term.

McIlroy carded five birdies and two bogeys, the second coming at his final hole, in the first round at Firestone.

That left McIlroy two behind clubhouse leader Thomas Pieters.

The Northern Irishman started at the 10th and a birdie at the 11 was cancelled out by a bogey on 15 before he picked up a shot on the 18th.

McIlroy made his move on his back nine with birdies at two, three and six although he missed a short putt at the ninth to drop back to three under.

The 28-year-old split with Fitzgerald after winning four majors together, saying “sometimes to preserve a personal relationship you have to sacrifice a professional one”.

McIlroy has brought in Diamond, a friend since childhood, for the Akron tournament and next week’s major, the PGA Championship in Charlotte.

“I just needed someone that knew me and that’s why I took Harry for the next couple of weeks,” he said on Wednesday.

“If something doesn’t work out and Harry and I say two weeks is enough, I’ll need to find someone else but I’ve got 10 days between the end of the PGA and the start of the Northern Trust to do that.”

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