McIlroy splits with Chubby - Golf - Sport - The Independent

McIlroy splits with Chubby

Wozniacki believed to have influenced decision called ‘bizarre’ by former stable-mate Westwood

Lee Westwood last night told Rory McIlroy he had made "a bizarre decision" by dumping Chubby Chandler.

The world No 2 took to the social network Twitter to challenge the prodigious young Ulsterman for leaving their shared management company to join a smaller agency which oversees their Ryder Cup team-mate Graeme McDowell.

Westwood's tweet capped a day of shocks in which McIlroy's decision came to light to quit the stable who had overseen his career since he turned pro. Westwood was as clearly surprised as anyone by the news. McIlroy informed Chandler, the founder and managing director of Internationals Sports Management, immediately after this week's Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda. To say Chandler was rocked is an understatement.

The affable Boltonian famously does not sign contracts, but a source told The Independent yesterday that Chandler was busily assembling McIlroy's own "board of directors" to keep tabs on his sponsorship deals and career plan. McIlroy had personally chosen Dermot Desmond, the Irish financier who is majority shareholder of Celtic, as the chairman and having recently been unveiled as the new face of the bank Santander everything appeared rosy.

McIlroy and Chandler have enjoyed a very close relationship since even before he turned pro in 2007. Growing up, McIlroy saw Darren Clarke as a mentor and Chandler, as Clarke's manager, was soon enlisted to help nurture his outrageous talent. More recently, Stuart Cage, the former European Tour professional, has been McIlroy's main ISM handler. Despite the pair forming a strong bond, Cage is not expected to join McIlroy at Horizon Sports.

The suspicion must be that something – or somebody – has turned McIlroy's head. The Independent understands McIlroy believed Chandler had too many top names on his roster. They include Westwood, the Open champion, Darren Clarke, and the South African major winners, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen. McIlroy thought more could be made of his "brand", and hence increase his revenue supply.

Sources insist that, in this regard, the influence of Caroline Wozniacki should not be downplayed. The world No 1 tennis player has been McIlroy's girlfriend since he split with his childhood sweetheart, Holly Sweeney, following his record major breakthrough at Congressional in June. After linking up with the Dane, McIlroy has completed a U-turn in re-joining the PGA Tour and looking for a home in Florida. (PAR)

In signing with Horizon, the agency run by Conor Ridge in Dublin, McIlroy is joining up with his great friend McDowell, as well as many other Irish professionals. Ironically McDowell was also an ISM client until leaving four years ago, just after McIlroy had joined. Three years later, McDowell won his country's first US Open. Observers have noted Ridge's burgeoning friendship with McIlroy, although it was only idle gossip which envisaged such a union. Apparently talks were going on behind the scenes.

It cannot be disguised as anything other than a huge blow for ISM, after a year in which their players won three majors. Despite not adding to a haul of three titles since the US Open, McIlroy is considered the hottest young property in golf. ISM also parted company with Ernie Els last month, yet that was not entirely unexpected. This was.

Westwood's tweet to McIlroy – "a bizarre decision!" – and his subsequent comments on Twitter hinted at the disquiet felt within ISM. The statements earlier from the respective camps on had been typically diplomatic.

But the ire of Westwood, who has been with Chandler since the mid-90s and is understandably loyal to his mentor, has cut through the PR speak. Next week Westwood and McIlroy – who is currently holidaying with Wozniacki in Indonesia – will line up against each other at the Shanghai Masters. Evidently, there may be rather more to contend for offer than $2m, the richest first prize in golf.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent