Monday 22 December 2014

McDowell quits sports firm at centre of McIlroy lawsuit

Karl MacGinty

Published 25/08/2014 | 02:30

Graeme McDowell has decided to follow Rory McIlroy’s example and leave Dublin firm Horizon Sports Management
Graeme McDowell has decided to follow Rory McIlroy’s example and leave Dublin firm Horizon Sports Management

MAJOR-WINNING golfer Graeme McDowell has decided to follow Rory McIlroy's example and leave Dublin firm Horizon Sports Management to take charge of his own career.

Unlike McIlroy's departure, which has resulted in an acrimonious 
legal battle in the Commercial Court, McDowell and the Dublin firm will part on good terms after working together for seven years.

The development emerged last night after McDowell completed his final round at The Barclays in New Jersey.

In a statement issued jointly by the 35-year-old Portrush man and Horizon, it was announced "that Graeme will embark on managing his own commercial interests at the conclusion of his current management contract at the end of the 2014 season".

McDowell said: "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. I am proud to say that in the intervening years, these ambitions have not only been achieved, but have 
surpassed my highest expectations."

"During my time with Horizon I have become a Major Champion, played in three successive Ryder Cups and won multiple tournaments around the world," added the 2010 US Open champion, who played a central part in Horizon's development into a significant player in the global golf arena.

Inevitably, his decision to leave will place the future of Horizon in some doubt, though the company still has high profile clients in up-and-coming Irish star Shane Lowry and England's Ross Fisher.

This summer, McDowell's name was brought into McIlroy's action against Horizon by the Holywood star's lawyers but it is understood that this has not had any bearing on his decision to move on at year's end.

Instead, McDowell, who already has developed a number of successful business ventures of his own outside of golf, views this as the right time to take charge of all his own affairs on and off the golf course.

This is a period of great change within the golf's star's life. Today, for example, he will go with wife Kristin to check into a Orlando maternity hospital for the birth of their first child, a daughter. "I am at a stage in my life where it feels right to move on to the next phase of my career - both in golf and business."

He also thanked Conor Ridge and Horizon team for their "advice and commitment", adding he looked forward to their "continued friendship".

Horizon CEO Mr Ridge said: "He took a leap of faith when joining what was then a fledgling Irish sports management agency, and we are immensely proud of what we have achieved together since."

A month after signing a renewal of his contract at Horizon, McIlroy left the company in April 2013 to set up his own company Rory McIlroy Inc.

He launched legal proceedings against Horizon in the Commercial Court last September, ironically on the eve of McDowell's wedding. Lawyers for Horizon would allege in court the timing was deliberate but McIlroy's representatives said it was coincidental.

McIlroy's lawyers stated was also unaware, either when discussing the representation agreement with Conor Ridge in October 2011 or signing it, that McDowell had a shareholding in Horizon.

In October last year, Horizon lodged a counter-suit.

Irish Independent

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