Superstar Rory McIlroy forms his own management firm

Sam Greenwood

Rory McIlroy may have to duke it out in court with his former business manager, Horizon Sports Management, which claims the world No. 6 remains under contract despite creating his own company.

While world No. 1 Tiger Woods was picking up his 11th PGA Tour Player of the Year award Friday, formerly top-ranked Rory McIlroy offered his own bit of news that, like the hardly surprising crowning of Woods as the best player of 2013, was just a tad anti-climactic.

McIlroy, who was last year’s PoY after a dominating 2012 campaign, announced he had established his own management company after parting ways with the firm that handles the business affairs of Northern Irish countryman Graeme McDowell.

Still under contract to Horizon Sports Management, the two-time major champion who had a dreadful season after signing a multi-million-dollar equipment deal with Nike Golf, formed Rory McIlroy Inc. to maintain his off-course money matters. Irish business executive Donal Casey, who had worked as Horizon Sports' director of strategy, will run RMI, according to a brief statement on the golfer’s website.

While McIlroy claimed he had ended his relationship with Horizon, his former managers begged to differ, stating that the company noted "with disappointment" the 24-year-old’s decision, and adding that its contract with McIlroy "has a number of years to run.

"Rory’s decision to seek a termination of the management contract with Horizon is now regrettably in the hands of legal advisors," Horizon said in a statement, signaling that McIlroy’s off-course distractions could continue for some time.

McIlroy has been attempting for some time to disengage himself from Horizon, which he joined in 2011 after splitting with International Sports Management's Chubby Chandler following his record-breaking U.S. Open victory. Horizon worked out the mega-deal between the currently sixth-ranked player in the world and Nike, which reportedly is on the hook to McIlroy for some $20 million per year over 10 years.

After starting the year at the top of the world rankings, McIlroy suffered through a miserable 2013 campaign in which he went winless, lost his No. 1 status to Woods, and, after winning two FedExCup playoff games last year, failed to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship. He has also withstood nonstop criticism for switching from Titleist to Nike gear at the start of the season.

McIlroy’s father, Gerry McIlroy, will sit on the board of the player’s new company, along with Casey and Barry Funston, who will head up the charitable arm of RMI.

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