McIlroy leaves Chandler's ISM for Horizon Sports

Rory McIlroy, right, is joined his caddie J.P. Fitzgerald, left, and his former manager Andrew 'Chubby' Chandler. McIlroy announced he is leaving Chandler's ISM on Friday morning.

Rory McIlroy has left Chubby Chandler’s International Sports Management Group. The reigning U.S. Open champion has followed countryman Graeme McDowell to Horizon Sports Management, the Dublin-based sports group run by Conor Ridge.

In a statement, ISM said:

“International Sports Management and Rory McIlroy have ended their association after four years.

“It has been an honour representing Rory and we take great pride in the role ISM has played in guiding him successfully through his formative years as a professional golfer.

“Under our management he has grown into an international figure and he leaves us as a Major Champion.

“ISM prides itself on putting the athlete first. In golf this has enabled our players to achieve unprecedented success with Rory joining Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Darren Clarke as a major winner and Lee Westwood at the summit of the World Rankings.

“ISM continues to go from strength to strength, its dedicated team of professionals providing our clients with world class support across the globe. We look forward to even more success in the years ahead.”

Chubby Chandler, ISM's managing director, said: “Onward and upwards. We have had a quite brilliant year. The company is growing and adapting to ensure it stays at the forefront of golf and the business of managing players. We wish Rory every success.”

McIlroy joined ISM straight out of the amateur ranks after turning professional following the 2007 Walker Cup. The tie-up was a natural fit for the Northern Irish phenomenon, because countryman Darren Clarke plays such a huge role in the ISM stable.

According to a Golfweek source, McIlroy broke the news to Chandler on Wednesday while the pair were in Bermuda at the PGA Grand Slam.

McIlroy still has major contracts brokered by ISM, including Jumeirah Estates in Dubai, Titleist and Audemars Piguet, to name a few. These contracts will remain in place even while McIlroy is with Horizon.

Besides McDowell, Horizon also represents Northern Ireland players Michael Hoey and Gareth Maybin, as well as England's Ross Fisher.

“This move had been coming for a while,” said Golfweek’s source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “There had been discussions during the season.”

The move might seem strange to many observers because Horizon has been in operation for only a few years, while ISM is the hottest management company in the game.

However, it’s the second big defection from Chandler’s ISM stable. Ernie Els left ISM earlier this year.

“Horizon is pretty small compared to ISM," the Golfweek source said. Conor Ridge doesn’t have the same status in the game as Chandler, so it remains to be seen how Rory will fare.”

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