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Diamond was absent last week at the RBC Canadian Open as he and his wife welcomed the arrival of their second child. Diamond watched on as McIlroy teamed up with another childhood friend, Niall O'Connor. It proved successful as McIlroy claimed his 21st PGA Tour title following a final round 62; two shots clear of Tony Finau.
Having first met in their teens through a mutual friend, the relationship between McIlroy and O'Connor runs deep. O'Connor was a prominent rugby player for Ulster, a sport which McIlroy loves, and remains a keen golfer to date. The pair have stayed close since he moved to the United States a few years ago.
With O'Connor having cemented his credentials as Diamond's understudy, he will take a step back and allow the man that succeeded JP Fitzgerald in 2017 to take his rightful place at McIlroy's side.
The Northern Irishman enters the US Open having notched a second place finish at Augusta National and a T8 at the PGA Championship - his best combined finishes in the opening two Majors of the season since 2015.
McIlroy's successful title defence in Canada now means he has the opportunity to become the first player since 2014 to win a Major the week after a PGA Tour event. It was the 33-year-old who last achieved that feat when he claimed the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the most recent of his Major victories, the PGA Championship, in successive weeks.
The former World No.1 has finished in the top-10 in each of his last three US Open appearances and is considered among many to be favourite to claim a fifth Major title this week at Brookline.
As the pressure and expectation once again begins to surround the Northern Irishman, he remains insistent that winning is the best form of preparation: "There's no better way to prepare yourself for tournament golf than to be in contention, having to hit the shots when you need to," he said after his win on Sunday. "I proved this week that I can do that and hopefully get myself back into position to have to do that again next week."
McIlroy's bid for a second US Open title will begin at 7.40am EDT/12.40pm BST alongside Hideki Matsuyama and Xander Schauffele.
James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.
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