Rory faces major legal headache after going solo
Published 28/09/2013 | 05:00
RORY McIlroy has been hailed as golf's Golden Child and the natural successor to Tiger Woods, but following his announcement that he has officially terminated his contract with Horizon Sports Management and become 'Rory McIlroy Incorporated', his problems may only be just beginning.
A golfing prodigy since the age of two, the 24-year-old from Holywood in Co Down enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of the sport that has not been without its share of spectacular speed bumps.
Less than two years ago, he won his first Major by eight shots and then shocked his veteran British agent Chubby Chandler just five months later by announcing that he was dumping him to join boutique Dublin agency Horizon Sports Management.
It seemed like a partnership made in heaven as McIlroy went on to become Irish golf's first world No 1, capturing his second Major title by another staggering eight-stroke margin at last year's US PGA.
Nothing could go wrong, it appeared.
McIlroy has belied his boyish looks by taking a series of ruthless decisions during his short career.
Deciding midway through this season that he needed to take ownership of his own affairs entirely, he cut ties with Horizon Sports almost entirely, poaching a member of its staff to handle his day-to-day affairs before making his decision to go his own way public.
It's a decision that could cost him a sizeable chunk of his huge fortune. The matter is now in the hands of lawyers.
"Under Horizon's management, Rory has signed some of the most lucrative endorsements in sports history," Horizon said. "The current management contract has a number of years to run. Rory's decision to seek a termination of the management contract with Horizon is now regrettably in the hands of legal advisers. Horizon will be making no further comment."
Industry sources, who did not wish to be named, estimate that it could cost McIlroy considerably more than €4.4m to walk away from the Horizon deal.
Following his rise to world No 1 last year, McIlroy has endured a horrific 2013 season since he joined Tiger Woods in the Nike Golf stable. His apparent unhappiness with Horizon surfaced soon after he walked off the course after just 26 holes in the Honda Classic in March.
Things have not improved for him on the course since then, and he has not registered a victory for 12 months.
McIlroy will be a conspicuous absentee from Graeme McDowell's wedding in the Bahamas today. After all, his former management company will all be there.
He's spent the week in Dublin, where his legal affairs are in the hands of A&L Goodbody, who declined to comment on any potential lawsuit.
He is as much a corporate entity as Woods right now, with his PR affairs in the hands of Terry Prone.
He will have at least two former Horizon employees on his payroll, with former director of strategy, actuary Donal Casey, a native of Athy in Co Kildare, acting as CEO.
The Rory Foundation for charity will be run by family friend and Holywood native Barry Funston.
Given the youngster's troubled year, a quick out-of-court settlement with Horizon might finally bring him some peace of mind – something he has struggled to find all year – and allow him to do what he does best.