G-Mac denies swaying McIlroy switch

Norman Dabell

GOLF: Graeme McDowell played no part in world number three Rory McIlroy's decision to change management teams, the defending Andalucia Masters champion has said.

US Open winner McIlroy surprised the golfing world last week by moving from Andrew 'Chubby' Chandler's International Sports Management (ISM) to Conor Ridge's Horizon stable, who have McDowell on its books.

"I've heard I'm supposed to have enticed Rory, well I purposely took a back seat in it all," 2010 US Open champion McDowell said ahead of his Andalucia title defence at Valderrama.

"Rory makes his own decisions and doesn't listen to anybody. I certainly wasn't going to sway him about what to do with his career. Even if I could, he'd resent it if it didn't work out."

McDowell made a similar switch earlier in his career.

"I went through the same process three or four years ago and it was very amicable. Rory's split seems pretty amicable as well," he said of his close friend and fellow Northern Irishman.

"That's life, it's business, not personal. We are one big travelling circus out here and it pays to get on with each other. I've never known any rifts to be catastrophic between players and management companies. It's a long career, we're not going to burn bridges and fall out with people."

McDowell, who has had an indifferent year since his US Open success, conceded he would now be taking a back seat at Horizon.

"I've been number one but Rory is now," he said. "I'm happy about that."

Fate threw McIlroy and Lee Westwood together in today's first round at the Shanghai Masters exhibition event in China -- just days after the world number two called his Ryder Cup team-mate's decision to switch management teams "bizarre".

"Bizarre is Lee Westwood's opinion," said McDowell. "Perhaps Rory wants a different view on things, the way his business life is run off the golf course."