Caddie Dave McNeilly's split with Matt Wallace 'part of the game'

Caddie Dave McNeilly with Matt Wallace at the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush
Caddie Dave McNeilly with Matt Wallace at the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush

Veteran Northern Ireland caddie Dave McNeilly has described his split with English golfer Matt Wallace as "part of the game".

Wallace earned four European Tour wins after linking up with McNeilly in early 2017 but parted company with the 67-year-old earlier this month.

TV pictures showed Wallace directing on course outbursts at McNeilly on a number of occasions this year but the county Antrim man refused to criticise the Englishman on Monday.

"I'm not saying, 'poor old me. I've been scapegoated'," McNeilly told BBC Sport Northern Ireland.

"You have got to take responsibility for your part in it.

"The reason why I enjoyed working for Matt Wallace was because of that fire. It's a caddie's dream to have a player who is going to give you his all."

Wallace, ranked 26th in the world, received criticism on social media for his treatment of McNeilly during the final round of the BMW International Open in Munich in June.

However, McNeilly, whose long caddie career has included stints with Sir Nick Faldo, Nick Price and Padraig Harrington, said that there was fault on both sides in his relationship with the fiery Wallace.

"This just isn't all about Matt Wallace. I have to be able to learn and adapt and caddie for him," said the Greenisland man.

"I have to be able to learn the right words to say to him which are not going to fan those flames and keep giving him messages which are going to keep him focused.

"And maybe an area where I wasn't so good was that I didn't set boundaries down to Matt and say, 'no, you're not going to cross a line in the sand' [in terms of losing his temper]. I was more focused on trying to make it work."

Dave McNeilly and Matt Wallace
Dave McNeilly and Matt Wallace during the 2018 PGA Championship

Wallace's final tournament with McNeilly was the World Golf Championship event in Memphis late last month with the parting of the ways coming four days later in a phone conversation.

"He was sort of regretting that he had to do it," added McNeilly, who has battled back to health after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014.

"There wasn't a (stated) reason but if there was a reason it would have been more like, he didn't like the way he was behaving towards me on the golf course.

"He wasn't prepared to persevere with that. The sad thing was I was prepared to persevere and I actually thought we were starting to get there, to get over that hurdle, where we were starting to work well together."

McNeilly will now await any job offers than come his way but given his pedigree, he is unlikely to have to wait too long.

As is his wont, McNeilly was on the range at Galgorm Castle in Northern Ireland on Monday offering advice to young players ahead of this week's inaugural World Invitational which features both men's and women's professional events.

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