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.
“Business-wise, the guy’s in the best shape he’s ever been in his life. For whatever reason, his golf struggled early in the season, but I’m pretty sure the management company weren’t giving him lessons, caddying for him or telling him how to play. That’s kind of his own deal.
“Sometimes when we’re not on our game, I’m not going to say we make wrong decisions, but we have a tendency to question everything in our lives.
“It’s a high-stakes, high-pressure scenario and something has got to give now and again.”
McDowell continued: “Rory’s parents Gerry and Rosie are great and I know Caroline Wozniacki and Rory potentially want to do a foundation together.
“Life changes and Rory’s life is not in Ireland anymore. That was kind of the good thing about Horizon for him at one point, I suppose, but who knows?
“The No 1 players in the world typically go out on their own and do their own thing. Greg Norman and Nick Faldo, Tiger to a certain extent. Life and business goes on.”
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