Rory McIlroy Fires Back Over Criticism of His Caddie

Hank Haney, Tiger Woods's former instructor, and commentator Smylie Kaufman had questioned McIlroy bagman and longtime friend Harry Diamond.
Caddie Harry Diamond and Rory McIlroy have had years of success but have not teamed to win a major.
Caddie Harry Diamond and Rory McIlroy have had years of success but have not teamed to win a major. / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Rory McIlroy pushed back against criticism of his caddie, Harry Diamond, in the aftermath of his U.S. Open defeat at Pinehurst No. 2, saying that those who have issues with his friend on the bag are never there to offer compliments when things go well.

McIlroy, in advance of this week’s Scottish Open, was specifically asked about comments made by longtime instructor Hank Haney on social media and former PGA Tour player and commentator Smylie Kaufman, who followed McIlroy during the final round.

Haney, who coached Tiger Woods for six years including six major championships, said Woods’s former caddie, Steve Williams, would not have allowed Woods to make some of the choices that McIlroy did during the U.S. Open.

Kaufman specifically called out McIlroy's decision-making on the 15th hole, saying Diamond should have stepped in over club selection.

“I don’t ever really see Harry stepping in a ton,” Kaufman said. “Rory always, if he has a question, he’ll ask, but for the most part, Rory kind of goes and does his thing and he’s got a lot of feel.”

Diamond is a childhood friend of McIlroy’s who was best man at his wedding. He’s been caddying for him since 2017 a time in which McIlroy has not won a major championship but has nonetheless had considerable success.

Haney said that friendships among players and caddies can work as long as the caddie is assertive.

“It's certainly unfair,” McIlroy said. “Hank Haney has never been in that position. Smylie has been in that position once, and I love Smylie, and he was out there with us on 18.

“But just because Harry is not as vocal or loud with his words as other caddies, it doesn't mean that he doesn't say anything and that he doesn't do anything. I just wish that these guys who criticize when things don't go my way ... they never say anything good when things do go my way.

“So where were they when I won Dubai earlier year or Quail Hollow or the two FedEx Cups that I've won with Harry or the two Ryder Cups or whatever? They are never there to say Harry did such a great job when I win, but they are always there to criticize when we don't win.

“At the end of the day, they are not there. They are not in the arena. They are not the ones hitting the shots and making the decisions. Someone said to me once, you would never—if you would never take advice from these people, you would never take their criticisms, either. Certainly wouldn't go to Hank Haney for advice. I love Smylie, but I think I know what I'm doing, and so does Harry.”

McIlroy is the defending champion at the Scottish Open, which begins Thursday.

Bob Harig


Bob Harig is a senior writer covering golf for Sports Illustrated. He has more than 25 years experience on the beat, including 15 at ESPN. Harig is a regular guest on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio and has written two books, "DRIVE: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods" and "Tiger and Phil: Golf's Most Fascinating Rivalry." He graduated from Indiana University where he earned an Evans Scholarship, named in honor of the great amateur golfer Charles (Chick) Evans Jr. Harig, a former president of the Golf Writers Association of America, lives in Clearwater, Fla.