McDowell to quit agency and Woods parts with coach Foley
Rory McIlroy drops to second on FedEx standings after Hunter Mahan’s Barclays victory
Graeme McDowell celebrates with his father Ken (left), Horizon agent Connor Ridge (right) and caddie Ken Comboy after winning the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
As they say, breaking up is hard to do! And, on a day when Tiger Woods parted ways with coach Sean Foley, the parting of ways between Graeme McDowell and Horizon Sports Management – from the end of the year – exhibited a mature and amicable approach to the ending of a relationship that, in its time, was tremendously successful.
In moving on to the self-management increasingly in vogue with elite golfers, McDowell – who announced his intentions in a joint-statement with Horizon to coincide with finishing his final round at the Barclays – is, in his own way, moving on to new horizons.
The timing was particularly pertinent in that McDowell’s private life, with his wife Kristin giving birth to a daughter yesterday, is also changing.
The loss of McDowell will of course be a huge blow to Horizon, the boutique Dublin-based agency, especially coming on the back of last year’s acrimonious parting of the ways with Rory McIlroy which has led to legal proceedings and a court hearing next February.
Court proceedingsIt leaves Horizon with only two established tour players in their stable – Shane Lowry and Ross Fisher – and, with those court proceedings with the world number one hanging over them, there’s an obvious reluctance to take on new clients until that case is resolved.
After his final round on Sunday night, McDowell remarked: “I’ve had a lot on my mind this week . . . I don’t think mentally I was ready for this tournament.”
The initial belief was this was on account of the scheduled birth of his first child, but the announcement of his intention to move on from Horizon showed business matters were also weighing heavily on his mind.
It is understood McDowell had at one point an option to take up a shareholding in Horizon, but that was never followed through on and is believed to have been taken off the table in 2012.
It must be said his association with Horizon proved mutually beneficial and successful. When he moved from ISM in November 2007 he was 102nd in the world. Now ranked 16, McDowell won 11 tournaments in his time with the company, including a breakthrough major at the US Open in 2010, and has created an impressive portfolio of corporate sponsors.
When McDowell changed clubs from Callaway to Srixon in 2010, the deal was – and remains – the biggest contract endorsement undertaken by Srixon/Cleveland, who included former world number one Vijay Singh among their players.
And as Horizon CEO Conor Ridge noted in the statement, “(McDowell’s) innate business acumen will serve him well as he manages his own affairs in the years ahead”.
Surprising as the McDowell-Horizon split may be, the decision by Woods to part from Foley had been on the cards for some time, with the 14-time Major champion struggling with injuries and his game all year.
In a statement on his website, Woods announced: “I’d like to thank Sean for his help as my coach and for his friendship. Sean is one of the outstanding coaches in golf today, and I know he will continue to be successful with the players working with him.
“With my next tournament not until my World Challenge event at Isleworth in Orlando [in December], this is the right time to end our professional relationship”.
Foley also issued a statement: “It was a lifelong ambition of mine to teach the best player of all time in our sport. I am both grateful for the things we had the opportunity to learn from one another, as well as the enduring friendship we have built. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him.”
CoachedWoods – previously coached by Butch Harmon and Hank Haney – said he had no plans to start working with a new coach.
The vagaries of the FedEx Cup playoffs are such that Hunter Mahan jumped ahead of Rory McIlroy to the top of the standings after his Barclays championship win, ahead of this week’s Deutsche Bank championship in Boston.
McIlroy blamed his failure to contend over the weekend in New Jersey on a cold putter rather than fatigue.
He intends to play in all four playoff events before taking a week’s break ahead of the Ryder Cup.