Rory: I remain close to Chubby

RORY McILROY says he remains "very close" to the man he dropped as his manager last month and insists there was "nothing personal at all" in the move that stunned golf.

Ireland’s US Open champion walked out of the stable which had four of the last six major winners, plus world number two Lee Westwood, to join Dublin-based Horizon.

“It’s a decision I didn’t take lightly,” McIlroy said.

“I thought long and hard about it and had a lot of chats with my mum and dad.

“I feel like a new environment around me might enable me to play even better and I feel like I’m moving on to the next stage of my career.

“Chubby’s been there for me since day one and it was very difficult for me. I remain very close to him – it was a purely business decision and nothing personal at all.”

McIlroy is hoping to use his appearance at the WGC Champions tournament in Shanghai this week as a stepping stone towards winning the European Tour’s 2011 Race to Dubai.

The 22-year-old Northern Irishman is currently €1,302,823 behind money list leader Luke Donald, who is on course to become the first player to win the US and European money lists in the same year.

However, the world number one has opted against playing in Shanghai – instead he will stay at home in Chicago, where his American wife Diane is expecting to give birth to their second child in the next two weeks.

McIlroy sees the US PGA order of merit champion’s absence, along with the €842,217 winner’s prize on offer, as an opportunity to end a year which has already seen him claim a first major at the US Open on an even higher note.

“I am ¤1.3m behind Luke,” McIlroy told reporters today, fresh from a $2m (¤1.4m) win at last week’s non-sanctioned Shanghai Masters that did not count towards any money list.


“But I have got three big events coming up. I have got this week, the Hong Kong Open and the Dubai World Championship. So three more chances to really try to cut into his lead.

“With him not being here this week, because his wife is giving birth, I feel like I have got a chance.

“It would be fantastic to get another win, the second in two weeks, and cut into that lead.”

Accompanying McIlroy around the Sheshan International course will be Danish girlfriend and world number one tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, who will be watching him play a tournament for the first time.