What Graeme McDowell described as Rory McIlroy’s “fairly amicable” split with his management company doesn’t seem to have affected the Holywood star’s popularity in the golf betting odds with Paddy Power to win next month’s US Open.
The Northern Irishman remains second favourite behind Tiger Woods to claim his third major at Merion but right now there’s more interest in the reasons behind what appears to be his irrevocable decision to leave Horizon Sports Management and set up his own organisation.
How this affects his golf remains to be seen in this week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, where he will be hoping to build on back-to-back top 10 finishes in his last two starts on the PGA Tour.
The unofficial split is expected to become made official soon, according to McDowell, who said on the eve of his Volvo World Match Play victory that press releases will be issued within days.
According to our sources, McIlroy will bring at least two Horizon Sports Management employees with him - a day-to-day handler to arrange his appointments and shadow him everywhere he goes on tour and another to take care of all his administrative needs.
Amicable or not - and we believe the operative word is “not” - McIlroy’s most important employee this week with be his caddie. He also needs his putter to be his friend.
The Burma Road track has not always been kind to him since he turned professional. He’s missed the cut in two of his four stars and shot over par rounds in nine of his 16 trips around the course, averaging 72.375.
While he looked to have rediscovered his form at Sawgrass peppering the flag throughout the week, he failed to make any real impact on the leaderboard due to a string of missed putts.
One of the game’s most underrated short game exponents, his putting has improved greatly in recent years, thanks mainly to his decision to hook up with Dave Stockton two years ago.
One of the techniques he’s used in his development is to try and visualise the line of his putts before picturing his ball dropping into the hole.
However, he struggled to pick the correct line on a number of occasions at The Players, where he eventually finished in a tie for eighth, six shots behind eventual winner Woods, who came up trumps for those who’d nominated him as the winner in the golf odds.
McIlroy admits that his lack of confidence on the greens cost him dear at Sawgrass.
“Tee to green I thought I played pretty well. I just didn’t hole the putts,” he told reporters. “I struggled a little bit reading them, and I got a bit indecisive.”
If McDowell’s assessment is correct, the world No 2 has made a decisive decision about announcing his future management plans within days.
Whether the reported split from Horizon was “fairly amicable” or not (and we are told it was not quite so friendly), a few friendly bounces on the hallowed fairways of Wentworth’s West Course are more important for him right now.