Rory McIlroy shot a bogey-free, eight-under 64 to take the lead at the money-grab, non-sanctioned Shanghai Masters on Thursday — and then shut down any questions regarding his recent management company swap.
“I’ve come here to talk about my 64,” said McIlroy, when asked about parting ways with Chubby Chandler and ISM to join the Dublin-based Horizon.
McIlroy was paired with world number two Lee Westwood, amid media claims the rivals had fallen out following the Northern Irishman’s sudden decision to sack the agent they shared.
Englishman Westwood said on Twitter that his rival had made a “bizarre decision” — the latest in a series of terse online exchanges between the two over the last month.
But signs of frost between the pair on the front nine soon thawed, with Westwood advising McIlroy on a free drop when he came unstuck in the lip of a bunker on the 15th.
Meanwhile, Graeme McDowell insists he didn’t play a role in luring McIlroy from ISM to Horizon, according to Reuters:
“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.