It pays to be loyal.
That’s the message from Rory McIlroy’s huge tip to caddie JP Fitzgerald after his FedEx Cup triumph.
Winning the FedEx Cup in September – a play-off series of golf tournaments that determines the PGA Tour’s season-long champion – saw the world No.3 pocket a cool $US10 million ($A13.07 million).
There was also a bonus thrown in for winning the season-ending Tour Championship.
And he was keen to share the love.
Being a caddie is a thankless task, having to carry clubs around all day and put up with the fluctuating moods of golfers – a sport that can be beautifully simple or madly frustrating.
Caddies usually get paid by the week and earn a percentage of their golfer’s winnings – meaning a caddie and a player ride the highs and lows of the tour together.
And after McIlroy’s latest success, Fitzgerald was definitely on a high, quickly sending a text message to the Northern Irishman.
“I think his words were, ‘A tsunami just hit my bank account, so thank you very much’,” McIlroy said.
“JP got a nice percentage of that [Fed Ex Cup and Tour Championship] winnings.
“The total was $US1.05 million. I think he was quite happy.”
It is not the first time Fitzgerald has greatly benefitted from his partnership with McIlroy.
But it is a relationship that works both ways, with McIlroy saying in 2014 how important Fitzgerald was to his team.
“JP has been on my bag since the middle of 2008 when I was 200th in the world,” he said.
“He’s a guy who’s been with me through all my wins on Tour.
“He’s been with me through some tough play-off losses, with me through everything.
“So if it’s not broke, you don’t fix it. He’s become one of my closest friends and it’s a combination I think is working very well.”
It could have been so different
Fitzgerald has been a caddie for many of golf’s big names, including Paul McGinley, Ernie Els and Darren Clarke.
Clarke, like McIlroy, hails from Northern Ireland and he too is good friends with Fitzgerald.
But the often fractious relationship between golfer and caddy saw the pair put an end to their partnership – in the interests of their friendship – in 2004.
“I have been friends with JP for 20 years, but had started to get very hard on him on the course and I did not want to risk ruining that friendship,” Clarke said at the time.
“When player and caddie are not getting the best out of each other, then it is the only logical thing to do.
“We are parting amicably and I am sure we’ll work together again.”
Clarke, who won The Open in 2011, added it was Fitzgerald’s “suggestion that we take a break from one another”.
Clarke captained Europe at this year’s Ryder Cup and remains an active player on the golfing circuit.
He played only 14 tournaments in 2016, though, and missed the cut in 11 of them. He is now ranked 653rd in the world.