SOTOGRANDE, Spain (Reuters) - Graeme McDowell played no part in world number three Rory McIlroy’s decision to change management teams, the defending Andalucia Masters champion said on Wednesday.
U.S. Open winner McIlroy surprised the golfing world last week by moving from Andrew ‘Chubby’ Chandler’s International Sports Management (ISM) to Conor Ridge’s Horizon stable, who have McDowell on their books.
“I’ve heard I‘m supposed to have enticed Rory, well I purposely took a back seat in it all,” 2010 U.S. Open champion McDowell told reporters on the eve of his Andalucia title defence at Valderrama.
“Rory makes his own decisions and doesn’t listen to anybody. I certainly wasn’t going to sway him about what to do with his career. Even if I could he’d only resent it if it didn’t work out.”
McDowell made a similar switch from ISM to Horizon earlier in his career.
“I went through the same process three or four years ago and it was very amicable. Rory’s split seems pretty amicable as well,” he said of his close friend and fellow Northern Irishman.
“That’s life, it’s business, not personal. We are one big travelling circus out here and it pays to get on with each other,” added McDowell.
“I’ve never known any rifts to be catastrophic between players and management companies. It’s a long career, we’re not going to burn bridges and fall out with people.”
McDowell, who has had an indifferent year following his U.S. Open success, conceded he would now be taking a back seat at Horizon.
“I’ve been number one but Rory is now,” he said. “I‘m happy about that. I hope he’ll drive me on.”
Fate has thrown McIlroy and Lee Westwood together in Thursday’s first round at the Shanghai Masters exhibition event in China -- just days after the world number two called his Ryder Cup team mate’s decision to switch management teams “bizarre.”
”It’s very ironic,“ said McDowell. ”They’ll want to be out there and beat each other up, obviously from a golf point of view.
”Bizarre is Lee Westwood’s opinion. Perhaps Rory just wants a different view on things, the way his business life is run off the golf course.
“It’s Rory McIlroy’s decision, he’s a very smart kid,” McDowell added.
Editing by Tony Jimenez