Despite McIlroy’s steadfast denial at last week’s Players Championship, it was reported Friday that the world No. 2 was leaving Horizon Sports Management to form his own company, which will include close friends and family, including his father, Gerry. It was McIlroy’s second management change in the last 18 months.
McDowell confirmed the news with reporters in Bulgaria, saying the split was “fairly amicable.”
“Management is a funny thing,” he said, according to multiple media reports, including the Irish Golf Desk. “I always think when things are maybe not going 100 percent on the golf course, I think it’s natural to question everything you are doing down to relationships, business, just everything you’re doing.
“Sometimes we decide to make choices and decisions and take new paths that we perhaps feel like, for the bigger picture, will help us improve and get better.
“Rory’s made a decision about his management structure, for whatever reasons, I don’t know. I really haven’t seen much of him for the last few months; our schedules have been quite different. It’s just one of those things, really.”
Indeed, a hectic year has become even more so for McIlroy. At the beginning of the year he signed a mega-deal with Nike (reportedly worth upwards of $20 million per year), walked off the course during the second round of the Honda Classic, struggled to find his swing, made an 11th-hour change to his schedule to prepare for the Masters and has yet to win this season, though he has posted three top 10s in his last four starts. He will tee it up at next week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
“I’m pretty sure the management company weren’t giving him golf lessons or caddieing for him or telling him how to play,” McDowell said, according to the report. “That’s kind of his own deal.
“But sometimes when we’re not on our game, we have a tendency to – I’m not going to say make wrong decisions – but we have a tendency to question everything in our lives that we are doing and sometimes we have to make changes.”
Ask Lee Westwood, however, and he thinks McIlroy made the right decision. The two players were former stablemates when McIlroy was a part of Chubby Chandler’s International Sports Management, from 2007-late 2011.
“When Rory first left Chubby, I thought he should have gone off on his own,” Westwood told the Daily Mail. “He’s such a big brand now that it sells itself. I said to him, ‘I don’t think you really need anybody other than a couple of good people in place.’ He’s going to sell himself for the next 20 years.
“I think he is doing the right thing. His dad should be able to give an unaffected opinion. I still ask my parents advice on a lot of things; they’re not involved financially and can give an unclouded judgment. And I believe Rory has the capability to win 10 majors.”