Rory McIlroy is taking a break from golf but will still be plenty busy.
The world’s No. 1 ranked played announced Monday that he will skip a pair of tournaments in China not just to rest up after a busy end of the season but to ready himself for legal battle against his former management company.
McIlroy is suing Horizon Sports Management, which in turn is suing McIlroy. The two sides failed to come to an agreement during a mediation procedure at The Commercial Court in Dublin and now the case is scheduled to go to a full hearing in 2015.
A statement from McIlroy on Monday said that “the court-directed mediation process failed over the weekend to resolve the issue. I’m going to need time away from tournament golf to prepare for the trial.”
The result is that McIlroy is out of a pair of events set to be staged in Shanghai, the BMW Masters on Oct. 30-Nov. 2 and the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions event the next week. McIlroy is next scheduled to tee it up at the World Tour Championship in Dubai from Nov. 20-23.
McIlroy left Horizon in May 2013 after two years to start a new management company. McIlroy’s lawsuit claims Horizon took advantage of his age, he was 22 at the time he signed the contract, and lack of independent legal counsel to represent him in his first negotiation with Horizon. The firm is counter suing, claiming that they are owed a little over $2.5 million by McIlroy that is outstanding under the agreement. Horizon is also claiming damages for what it sees as breaches of the December 2011 agreement and a later agreement from March 2013.
The two sides are set to go to court in February and they could still come to some kind of agreement. You would think that McIlroy would want the matter over and done with as he looks to build on a spectacular close to the 2014 season.
With wins at the Open Championship and PGA Championship, McIlroy needs just his first Masters title to complete a career Grand Slam. A February court battle could severely affect his preparation for Augusta as well as other parts of his early-season schedule. A win at the Masters would make McIlroy just the sixth player to complete the career Grand Slam.
McIlroy was also a key member of the victorious Ryder Cup team.
Another factor that leads toward the belief that this will be settled before it gets to court is that the money, while a substantial amount, doesn’t really add up to all that much for McIlroy considering his career and endorsements. The 25-year-old was named Nike’s brand ambassador in January and that deal alone makes him one of the highest paid athletes in the world.
McIlroy is reportedly trying to recover nearly $9 million from Horizon through the lawsuit. Whether or not it is worth the hassle and a shot at this third straight major championship victory remains to be seen.