ONE of the firmest friendships in European golf has been placed under stress by Rory McIlroy's impending departure from Dublin management company Horizon.
McIlroy made his feelings plain at Wentworth yesterday about his Ryder Cup and Seve Trophy playing partner Graeme McDowell.
When reporters approached McIlroy after practice for this week's BMW PGA Championship and asked if he had any comment to make on the Horizon affair, the sharp tone of his reply left little to the imagination.
"Ask G-Mac, he knows more than me," said the 24-year-old, clearly referring to frank but considered comments by McDowell last Friday and Saturday at the Volvo World Match Play Championships in Bulgaria.
An influential figure in McIlroy's decision to join him in the Horizon stable 18 months ago, McDowell expressed exasperation last weekend at being caught in the middle as the Holywood native and the Dublin management firm maintained a stoic silence.
When informed of his fellow Ulsterman's brusque remark, McDowell said: "Well listen, it's not my problem.
"It's his problem. I'll speak to Rory later and we'll have a conversation.
"I'm very sorry he feels that way. I was in contact with him over the weekend explaining my scenario and the predicament he and Horizon both put me in because, obviously, they have things to sort out themselves."
Any differences between the two seemed to be set aside when their paths crossed later on the practice range and, according to witnesses, McIlroy warmly congratulated McDowell (33) for last Sunday's momentous victory at Thracian Cliffs.
Ironically, Northern Ireland's two former US Open champions have been drawn together for the first 36 holes of the BMW PGA tomorrow and on Friday in a marquee group with their Ryder Cup comrade Paul Lawrie.