Rory McIlroy, in the midst of a reported change in management teams, has rejected any notion that he and countryman Graeme McDowell were involved in any sort of Tiger Woods-Sergio Garcia feud.
"Graeme and I are great friends,” McIlroy told reporters Wednesday, on the eve of the BMW PGA Championship. “He's maybe said a few things I wasn't happy with but we had a chat and all is OK."
Golf fans weary of the entertaining-turned-ugly soap opera that defines the Woods-Garcia relationship will be relieved to know that the Northern Irish European Ryder Cup teammates have patched up a potential pothole before it became a full-blown chasm. The cause of the non-existent rift was McDowell’s announcement last week that McIlroy would ditch Horizon Sports Management to form his own management team, in which his father and perhaps his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki would play key roles -- a declaration that the world No. 2 was still not ready to make.
"There has been a lot of speculation but it's not something I can comment on," McIlroy said about reports that he was leaving the agency that negotiated his reported $250 million deal with Nike.
A day earlier, McIlroy responded somewhat testily, according to Bernie McGuire, to a request for comment about his management situation.
“Go ask GMac,” he replied. “He knows more than me.”
McDowell, who convinced his mate to join Horizon after McIlroy left International Sports Management in October 2011, broke the apparently hush-hush news that McIlroy had left Horizon. He did not backtrack on Wednesday.
"It seems like the rumors are correct and Rory will be leaving to do his own thing," said the 2010 U.S. Open champion. “I'll be disappointed to see him go but my relations with Rory are fine. I'll leave it for Rory and Horizon to sort out.”
McIlroy, who dumped ISM four months after romping to an eight-stroke victory at the 2011 U.S. Open, was unwilling to go on record about his latest business venture.
"I'm here to try and stay on point and talk about golf," he said. "I can't really comment on speculation at this point. Obviously you guys know that something's up. That's fair enough. But at this point I can't really say much more."
As to whether he was about to go all Sergio on McDowell, McIlroy sought on Wednesday to squelch rumors of such a falling out between the presumably former Horizon stablemates.
“I know what I said yesterday and I guess at the time I meant that but it is what it is and it’s water under the bridge and away we go,” he said. “I spoke to Graeme yesterday afternoon and when we got back to the hotel we had a chat. Everything’s good.
“I’m great friends with Graeme,” McIlroy added. “He’s been like a big brother to me on tour. I remember playing a practice round with him at the Dunhill Links back in 2007 when I got my card. He really showed me the ropes out here for a couple of years, and it’s great to have good friends on tour and he’s somebody I consider a very good friend.”
For those who can only dream of a Tiger-Sergio pairing in the first two rounds of next month’s U.S. Open, it’s too bad the men’s second major of the season is not a European Tour event. By happenstance, McIlroy and McDowell will stroll the fairways together Thursday and Friday at Wentworth Club in Surrey, England.