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Sunday 4 December 2016

McIlroy drops manager in rough to join new agency

James Corrigan

Published 22/10/2011 | 05:00

Golfer Rory McIlroy with girlfriend and world number one tennis player Caroline
Wozniacki of Denmark.
Golfer Rory McIlroy with girlfriend and world number one tennis player Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.

Anyone who ever doubted that Rory McIlroy is his own man knows differently now.

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In a move that stunned the world of golf, the prodigious young Ulsterman dropped his manager, Chubby Chandler, to join his compatriot Graeme McDowell at a smaller Dublin-based agency.

The US Open champion broke the news to Mr Chandler, the founder and managing director of International Sports Management (ISM), immediately after this week's Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda.

To say Mr Chandler was surprised is an understatement.

McIlroy (22) and Mr Chandler have enjoyed a very close relationship, since even before he turned pro in 2007.

The suspicion must be that something -- or somebody -- has turned McIlroy's head. It is understood that McIlroy believed Mr Chandler had too many top names on his roster.

They include the world number two, Lee Westwood, the Open champion, Darren Clarke, and the South African major winners, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen. McIlroy thought more could be made of his "brand", and hence increase his revenue supply.

Sources insist that, in this regard, the influence of Caroline Wozniacki should not be downplayed. The world number one tennis player has been McIlroy's girlfriend since he split with his childhood sweetheart, Holly Sweeney.

Since linking up with the Dane, McIlroy has completed a U-turn in rejoining the PGA Tour and looking for a residence in Florida.

In joining Horizon, the Dublin-based agency run by Conor Ridge, McIlroy is linking up with his great friend McDowell, as well as many other Irish professionals.

Ironically, McDowell was also an ISM client until leaving after Mr Chandler officially signed McIlroy. A few years later, McDowell won the US Open.

It can't be disguised as anything other than a huge blow to ISM, after an incredible year in which their players won three majors. ISM also parted company with Ernie Els last month, yet that was not entirely unexpected. This was.

However, as is the way with golf, relationships will remain cordial. "We wish Rory every success," Mr Chandler said in a statement. Meanwhile, McIlroy, who is holidaying with Wozniacki in Indonesia, also released a statement through his new PR team. "Chubby and his team have played a very important role in my success to date," he said. "I am now keen to move on to the next stage of my career and I feel this will be facilitated by a fresh view and a new structure around me."

SHOCK MOVE: SEE SPORT

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