GOLF: Rory McIlroy (pictured) dramatically fired long-time mentor Andrew 'Chubby' Chandler yesterday in the belief that he had outgrown his management company.
The 22 year-old, who had been part of Chandler's International Sports Management (ISM) company since becoming professional in 2007, turned instead to Conor Ridge's Dublin-based Horizon stable to manage his sprawling portfolio of sponsors.
For Horizon, already with McIlroy's great friend Graeme McDowell on its books, it signalled a remarkable coup. But for ISM, the defection of the US Open champion -- worth an estimated £10million, and with the potential to command Tiger Woods-level endorsements -- was a grievous blow, especially in the wake of Ernie Els's departure three weeks ago.
Chandler is understood to be deeply disappointed at losing a player he had nurtured from the age of 18. He was informed of the decision immediately after McIlroy finished playing in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda on Thursday. The news came as a shock just weeks after a £1million-a-year deal was agreed with Santander.
McIlroy, in Istanbul to spend time with girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, said last night: "I would like to thank Chubby and his team for their guidance, representation and management over the past four years.
"I am now keen to move on to the next stage of my career and feel this will be a facilitated by a fresh view and a new structure around me."
Donald eager to get back in money
GOLF: World number one Luke Donald lost ground in his battle with Webb Simpson for the PGA Tour money list title as the Briton carded a one-under-par 71 in Friday's second round of the Disney Classic at Lake Buena Vista in Florida.
Donald needs to finish no worse than in a two-way tie for second at this week's season-ending event to eclipse American Simpson at the top, but he will go into today's third round five shots off the pace in a tie for 14th.
"It wasn't very good," Donald said after mixing three birdies with two bogeys while fighting a sinus infection.
"I struggled in kind of all parts of my game unfortunately.
"My energy level, my focus wasn't very good. I struggled off the tee. Hopefully (I'll) get a good night's rest and feel a bit more recharged tomorrow. I'm going to need to go low on the weekend."
While money list leader Simpson returned a 69 to end the day level with Donald at seven-under 137, American Justin Leonard, South Korean Bio Kim and Swede Henrik Stenson took joint control.
Garcia at home with lead in Castello
GOLF: It was a case of 'Home Sweet Home' as Sergio Garcia took a giant stride towards his first victory for almost three years.
Competing on the Mediterraneo course in Castellon he has known since he was a child, the 31-year-old Spaniard fired an eight-under-par 63 to charge into the lead at the Castello Masters.
It was only a stroke off his lowest round in either Europe or America and took him to 12 under par at halfway -- two ahead of Swede Alex Noren, who was also round in 63 as he seeks a third win of the season.
Damien McGrane is best of the Irish on three-under-par in a tie for 28th. Michael Hoey lies two shots back.
Blues' cruise a downer for Ravens
RUGBY: Leinster 'A' eased to 46-19 victory over the Ulster Ravens at Donnybrook last night. Ulster out-half Paddy Jackson stroked a fifth-minute penalty, the first of three for him in the first half, but Andrew Conway and wing Darren Hudson bagged a try each to make it 12-12 at the break.
After the interval, a nice reverse ball from John Cooney to Hudson exposed a porous Ulster defence.
Then Jack McGrath made the incision for Jamie Hagan to finish from five metres out. Rhys Ruddock followed with the fifth, before Andrew Boyle crossed. Ravens centre Chris Farrell bombed over at the posts for the visitors' first try, but Ruddock replied with his second touchdown late on.
Rocket misfires on Tour in Killarney
SNOOKER: Xiao Guodong beat Ronnie O'Sullivan 4-1 at the Players Tour Championship in Killarney and only for a slight miss in frame number 5, the Chinese star could have had a 147 after already sinking 10 reds and 10 blacks.
It was a great day yesterday in so many ways for the Asian players, as earlier James Wattana saw off Mark Williams in impressive fashion with a 4--1 victory. It was a day where former world champions fell as Stephen Hendry was next to go, losing 4-1 Dechawat Poomjaeng.