Rory McIlroy in court: it's all over

Rory's bitter dispute with Horizon Sports finally reaches the High Court in Dublin

Rory McIlroy: great times on the course right now but not so good off-course
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It was all over pretty quickly with Rory McIlroy in court for less time that it takes to play a par 3. Here's our synopsis from start to finish

Things may be going swimmingly for Rory on the course right now as he enjoys a spell of Tiger-like dominance with four victories and three 2nd place finishes in his last seven starts, but off the course things have been getting decidedly messy with the protracted wranglings of his acrimonious separation from Horizon Sports Management ultimately landing the world number one in a Dublin High Court today.

Many of the facts and figures surrounding Rory's court case are a matter of speculation and uncertainty, but here’s what we do know about the chain of events that has led to Rory McIlroy in court this week…

October 2011

The then 22-year-old Rory parts company with Chubby Chandler’s ISM management group who had managed his affairs since he was 18.

Rory starting out with Chubby Chandler in 2008

Rory starting out with Chubby Chandler in 2008

December 2011

Rory signs a contract to join fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell in Dublin-based Horizon Sports Management’s growing stable of players.

January 2013



Following weeks of rumour, Rory parts company with Titleist and signs a five-year deal with Nike purported to be worth anything from $100 million to $200 million depending what paper you read, with the news finally announced in a blaze of publicity at the season-opening Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

Early 2013

Rory misses the cut in Abu Dhabi with his new gear, and endures a torrid few months on the course even walking off before completing his second round in the Honda Classic as defending champion, citing toothache as the reason. Many fear the curse of the big-money club switch!

Rory strides off before completing round two in 2013's Honda Classic

Rory strides off before completing round two in 2013's Honda Classic

March 2013

Rory signs a new deal with Horizon extending their partnership to 2017. The new deal sees Horizon getting 15-20% commission on his off-course deals, but nothing from his on-course earnings.

May to September 2013

Things turn sour with Horizon, and Rory announces a split from his management company to look after his own affairs going forwards via the newly formed Rory McIlroy Inc, with father Gerry on the board.

Rory and father Gerry: now partners off the course as well as on during Dunhill week

Rory and father Gerry: now partners off the course as well as on during Dunhill week

September 2013

Rory initiates proceedings against Horizon stating that as a young and naive professional he had been coerced into signing an "unconscionable contract" paying "excessive commissions” to Horizon. Horizon counter-sues for loss of commission and future commissions up to 2017, with the figure already running into many millions of pounds.

Throughout 2014

Attempts at last-ditch mediation, compromise or an out-of-course settlement in October fail, paving the way for things to be played out in the public eye via perhaps the most high-profile court case ever between a golfer and his management company.

Tuesday Feb 3rd, 2015

The dispute finally reaches the High Court in Dublin with Mr Justice Brian McGregan presiding. Rory is unlikely to play again until the Honda Classic, where, ironically, the first hints of this whole sorry mess surfaced two years ago. Some consolation for Rory will be that in his last seven tournaments he has pocketed €5,103,798 with Horizon not entitled to a penny of that money whichever way the judge rules!

Rory was in court for under a minute on the first morning before the case was deferred with an adjournment until 2pm, leading to speculation that an agreement may have been reached after all, which could put an early end to a case expected to last eight weeks. All will no doubt be revealed soon.

LATEST: hearing adjourned till Weds Feb 4th. We wait with bated breath...

FINAL OUTCOME: settlement is reached "to the satisfaction of both parties" leaving Rory in the clear at least physically, if perhaps not mentally just yet, to focus on his golf and the Masters. No further comment will be forthcoming, but speculation suggests a figure in excess of $20 million. Rory had better keep playing well the rest of the year!


Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response