McIlroy to set up management group
Two-time major champion Rory McIlroy is leaving Dublin-based Horizon Sports Management to set up his own management group, The Associated Press has learned.
It will be the second time since October 2011 that McIlroy has changed management.
A person with knowledge of the decision said McIlroy will create his own team with his father, close friends and associates. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because McIlroy has not announced the change.
McIlroy, who started the year in a slump and still hasn't won, is to play next week in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
''We cannot make any comment,'' Conor Ridge at Horizon Sports said in an email.
McIlroy denied speculation last week at The Players Championship about leaving Horizon, and he was accompanied by Sean O'Flaherty of Horizon, when he left Sunday after tying for eighth place.
The Irish Independent first reported that McIlroy was leaving.
McIlroy appears to be following a model set up by Adam Scott, who set up his own company with a small group around him.
The change was a surprise, much like when McIlroy left Chubby Chandler of International Sports Management in 2011, just four months after the 24-year-old from Northern Ireland won the U.S. Open by eight shots with a tournament record 16-under 268.
He knew Ridge and the Horizon staff through his close friendship with fellow U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell. McIlroy last year won the PGA Championship by a record eight shots among his five wins worldwide, which made him No. 1 in the world and allowed him to win the money title on the PGA Tour and European Tour.
Horizon negotiated a mega deal with Nike Golf, which is said to be worth upward of $20 million a year. Horizon also brought sponsorship deals with Bose and Omega, structured in such a way that McIlroy's apparel and golf bag were not splashed with logos. With Nike and Omega, he was able to end his previous contracts with Titleist and Audemars Piguet. He has Santander Bank on his bag, a deal that began under Chandler.
McIlroy signed a long-term deal with Horizon Sports, which stands to earn commission from the length of the recent endorsement deals.
The shakeup is another example of how McIlroy calls the shots.
His split from Chandler and ISM occurred on the flight home from Bermuda for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, which McIlroy said was the ''hardest decision I've ever had to make in my life.'' But he shared no details on why he needed to change.
''Sometimes to go forward in your career, you need to make a decision,'' McIlroy said in Shanghai after joining Horizon. ''I thought it was a decision I needed to make. I felt like for four years, Chubby was the best guy. But sometimes to progress you need to have a different view and a fresh view of things. It's about me trying to play my best golf. That's all there is to it. With a new environment around me, it might enable me to play even better.''
His father, Gerry, was with McIlroy during the Florida swing before heading home to Northern Ireland. McIlroy is selling his home outside Belfast and lives primarily in a house he bought in south Florida, when he's not traveling to see Caroline Wozniacki.