Golfer Rory McIlroy yesterday described his split from Int'l Sports Management agent Chubby Chandler as the "hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life," according to Oliver Brown of the London TELEGRAPH. McIlroy, speaking about the issue for the first time, said, “It’s the toughest conversation to sit down with the person who has been there for you for the past 10 years, and to tell him you want to change things up. But he understood. It has been very, very difficult, but we’ll remain friends. I’ll never forget what Chubby has done for me.” Chandler, “who despite public bullishness has been hurt by McIlroy’s departure, has wondered aloud" if McIlroy's girlfriend, tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, "played a role in his star client’s management switch." McIlroy “refused to elaborate” on why he switched agents, but said that “he wanted advisers who could help him reach the ‘next level.’” He is now represented by Dublin-based Horizon Sports Management. McIlroy: “It’s not a decision that I’ve made overnight. I’ve thought long and hard about this and I’ve spoken to the people who are close to me, obviously my mum and dad, and they’re 100 per cent behind any decision that I make. I just feel like it’s a good move for me.” ISM client Lee Westwood said, “He has had a good year, and he has [the] right kinds of sponsors for a young man -- all quality brands.” Westwood added, “I was shocked. I thought it was a bit of an odd decision” (London TELEGRAPH, 11/3). McIlroy said, “It was very difficult for me -- I was very close to him and remain very close to him." He added, "It was purely a business decision and nothing personal at all” (BBC.co.uk, 11/2). McIlroy: “For four years I felt Chubby was the best guy and ISM were fantastic for me, but sometimes to progress you need to have a fresh view on things” (THETIMES.co.uk, 11/2). More McIlroy: “I am shocked by how much interest there has been. These things happen all the time. It just seems that with me it’s made a bit of a bigger deal” (GUARDIAN, 11/3).
NEW HORIZON: The AP’s Doug Ferguson noted McIlroy “broke the news to Chandler on their way home from the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda.” The timing was “reminiscent of when Tiger Woods switched agents from Hughes Norton who negotiated blockbuster deals for Woods when he turned pro, to Mark Steinberg after two years” (AP, 11/2). In London, Peter Dixon writes at ISM “perhaps he still felt the junior partner in a stable that included Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke.” At Horizon, “despite the presence of Graeme McDowell, "he will be top dog. The contracts and subsequent checks “will all but write themselves, so it is unlikely that Horizon can improve on that, although McIlroy may well have negotiated to keep a higher percentage of his earnings” (LONDON TIMES, 11/3).