Rory McIlroy in shock split with agent after biggest sponsorship deal in sport
Golfer to go his own way with his dad after sacking Horizon Sports
Rory McIlroy has sacked his agent – just months after Dublin-based Conor Ridge made him a multi-millionaire with the biggest Nike sponsorship deal in the history of sport.
Like former girlfriend Holly Sweeney, Ridge and his Horizon company have been discarded by the two time major winner after his early season struggles to find form.
The shock news was confirmed by fellow golfer and Horizon client Graeme McDowell after reports in the Irish Independent newspaper.
Ridge has yet to comment publicly on the split after McIlroy decided to take control of his own destiny with the help of his dad Geoffrey and some ‘close’ friends.
McIlroy spent just 18 months with Ridge’s Horizon group after he ditched English manager Chubby Chandler.
During that time he rose to number one in the world rankings and signed a $250million deal to join Tiger Woods in the Nike stable.
Speaking at a tournament in Bulgaria, McDowell said: “Rory’s made a decision about his management structure, for whatever reasons I don’t know. I really haven’t seen much of him for the last few months, our schedules have been quite different.
“But management is a funny thing. I always think when things are maybe not going 100pc on the golf course, it’s natural to question everything you’re doing.
“I’ve been through periods in my career where I’ve questioned absolutely everyone around me – caddies, coaches, girlfriends, mums and dads and management structures. I made the jump from Chubby to Horizon.
“It certainly was a turning point in my pro career. They’ve done a phenomenal job for me for the past five or six years. I’ve never looked back since then and I’m very happy with what I’m doing.
“But when the stakes get high and the pressure is on, the old caddies and coaches normally are the first to go. I guess management companies probably are not too far down that pecking order either. Let’s be honest, it’s a fickle sport.”
McDowell did admit his own disappointment at McIlroy’s decision after encouraging him to join the Horizon stable.
He added: “From what I hear from the boys, it’s a fairly amicable break-up. He wants to go and do his own thing and surround himself with family, that’s fair enough.
“Horizon can be proud of their association. You’ve just got to look at the job they’ve done for Rory as he won his second Major title and got to world No 1.
“You can’t knock his results over the past 18 months nor the job they did for ‘Brand Rory’; the partnerships he got off the golf course; the money he’s making off the golf course; he signed the biggest deal ever in the sport with Nike at the end of last year.
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