Graeme McDowell will follow fellow Northern Irishman and World No. 1 Rory McIlroy out the door of the Dublin-based Horizon Sports Management when his contract expires at the end of the year and manage his own affairs, according to Brian Keogh of The Irish Times.
While McIlroy’s 2013 departure preceded a legal dispute that remains open before the Irish Commercial Court, McDowell insists that he’s leaving on much friendlier terms.
“When I joined Horizon in November 2007, I was ranked outside the top 100 players in the world, and was seeking a new and energetic management team to help me achieve my career ambitions — both on and off the golf course,” said McDowell in a statement released on Sunday. “I am proud to say that in the intervening years, these ambitions have not only been achieved, but have surpassed my highest expectations.”
McDowell said that he is merely “at a stage in [his] life where it feels right to move on,” but the his decision is surely a blow to the boutique management agency, led by Conor Ridge, whose only remaining clients are Shane Lowry and Ross Fisher, according to the Irish Times.
The move also comes on the heels of the Irish Commercial Court’s July decision to grant McIlroy access to McDowell’s contract with Horizon as part of his lawsuit against the company. McIlroy claims that the terms of his contract were “markedly inferior” to those enjoyed by McDowell despite assurances from the management company that they were similar. As a result, McIlroy claims, he paid $6.8 million in “unreasonable” fees. Horizon is countersuing McIlroy for $3 million for breach of contract.
Earlier in July, McDowell acknowledged that the legal battle had tested his relationship with McIlroy, even as they might compete alongside one another in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles if McDowell makes the team.
"It's been a strain on our relationship, no doubt about it," McDowell said last month. “We're not the same as we used to be.”