The latest twist in the bitter, high-stakes legal battle between Rory McIlroy and his former management company, Horizon Sports, came Tuesday when a judge urged the two sides to settle their differences out of court because of the “sensitive” involvement of McIlroy’s Ryder Cup teammate Graeme McDowell, who is still represented by Horizon Sports but who plans to sever ties at the end of this year.
McIlroy has alleged that McDowell received more favorable contract terms from Horizon despite being promised that he and McDowell would have similar deals. To bolster McIlroy’s case, his lawyers have requested confidential documents relating to McDowell’s contracts with Horizon, which troubled the presiding High Court judge, Justice Brian McGovern.
“The case has all sorts of sensitivities involving two players on tour, a manager of one of them and a former manager or agent of the other,” McGovern said. “It has all sorts of complex issues involving relationship matters.”
Four-ball and foursome matters, too.
McIlroy and McDowell both contend that they have remained friendly, if not overly chummy, through the legal skirmish, but it’ll be up to European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley to determine whether the dynamic Irish duo will gel as partners at Gleneagles next week. In each of the last two Ryder Cups, McIlroy and McDowell have partnered in three matches.
"It’s not going to become an issue in the team room,” McGinley said recently when asked of any potential awkwardness between his Irish stars. “I know the guys are going to be professional enough.
“I would be very surprised if they don’t play together although I’m not going to write it in stone.”
(McGinley has been entangled in his own Ryder Cup drama. He recently spoke at length about how, in the months before the ’14 Ryder captaincy was filled, his longtime friend Darren Clarke turned on him by endorsing not McGinley but Colin Montgomerie.)
The upside for Europe? Perhaps breaking up McIlroy and McDowell wouldn’t be such a bad thing. In their six Ryder Cup matches together, they have accumulated an unremarkable 2.5 points.