Post-breakup, McIlroy maintains focus on golf

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

SHANGHAI, China - After his playoff victory last week at the Shanghai Masters, Rory McIlroy is the 5-1 favorite coming into this week's WGC-HSBC Champions, according to Las Vegas oddsmakers.

The odds of McIlroy answering questions on his breakup two weeks ago with Chubby Chandler and his ISM agency, however, are more like 500-1.

“I just want to concentrate on my golf,” McIlroy said Tuesday as he walked from the driving range to the short-game area at Sheshan International Golf Club.

The golf world was shocked by the split of McIlroy, the reigning U.S. Open champion, and the affable Chandler. McIlroy, 22, of Northern Ireland and ranked No. 3 in the world, has chosen to stay mum on the subject.

“He’s just made a decision that he wants a different team, a new team,” said Conor Ridge, McIlroy’s new agent. “He’s got his own reasons for that, and it's all been very friendly and very amicable.”

Ridge and Chandler met late last week about the transition and huddled again here Tuesday to work through the particulars, with Ridge calling the discussions very friendly and amicable. Chandler and McIlroy have not met since that day two weeks ago in New York when McIlroy told Chandler he was making a change until today on the driving range when Chandler walked up to McIlroy and congratulated him on his win last week. It was a conversation that didn’t last long, but Chandler maintains that the relationship is friendly.

“We're still in handover stage,” Ridge said about potential deals for McIlroy and the expiration of others, but the status of the deals seemed not to be an issue for Ridge.

“To be perfectly honest with you, we just want to help him be the best player he can be and as content and as happy as he can be,” Ridge said. “The other stuff is largely irrelevant; it's not what it's about. Obviously there is a large commercial side to his business, but it's secondary to his golf, and that's the way it should be.”

Ridge’s Horizon agency is small like ISM. With the exception of Graeme McDowell, who joined last year. Horizon has a mix of veterans - including Graeme McDowell and Ross Fisher - and up-and-comers such as Shane Lowery, Gareth Maybin and Michael Hoey, the winner of the Dunhill Links last month.

“We are very happy with the players we have, and we just want to do the best job we can for them,” Ridge said. “We want to keep it small. That’s what got us to where we are.”

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