Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Press Association Images Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy who is to be hit with a counter claim when he takes legal action against his former sports agent, a court has been told.
# Looking Forward
Why Rory McIlroy is hoping to put a nightmare year behind him
The golf star is the subject of a bitter battle in a Dublin courtroom.

The only thing missing from Rory McIlroy’s traumatic 2013 is a relationship break-up. That news, it seems, is edging ever closer amid reports in Ireland last weekend that the golfer has finally split from his girlfriend, the Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki.
When thrown into a year which has seen McIlroy involved in legal cases worth tens of millions of pounds, slide from No1 to No6 in the world on account of missed cuts and absent form, plus the public-relations disaster of a mid-tournament walk off, that is quite a package. Should the Northern Irishman ever decide to write an autobiography, there will be little doubt over the key chapter.
“Wozilroy” has been one of the most famous and high-profile partnerships in global sport. But, from the outside, it has not been a scenario best suited to the pair’s careers. When whispers first circulated about an imminent parting of the ways, almost two months ago, McIlroy was said to be as concerned by Wozniacki’s tumble down the world rankings as his own on-course problems.
At the Open Championship in July, McIlroy had claimed to be “brain dead” on course. It was an alarming statement. Since then, there have been only glimpses that he will recover some of his brilliance this year rather than regard it as a total write-off.
McIlroy has spent much of his recent time either in Belfast with childhood friends, as was the case when he took in Ulster’s Heineken Cup match with Leicester on Friday night, or Dublin, where he was by Saturday. The inclination to follow the WTA Tour at any given opportunity has long since passed, it would seem.
McIlroy is nothing if not single-minded. He is not averse to change. In fact he makes a habit of it, as demonstrated by his move from International Sports Management to the Horizon group in late 2011. Now, Horizon itself has been ditched.
There has been a distinct cooling of the relationship, too, with his close friend Graeme McDowell. When McDowell married in the Bahamas last month, McIlroy was a notable absentee.
Today, Horizon and McIlroy will be represented in a Dublin courtroom as that alliance continues its own messy break-up. As with the McDowell alliance, it is sad that something which worked so well has come to this. The newly-formed Rory McIlroy Incorporated claims it has terminated the golfer’s contract with Horizon under which McIlroy agreed his much-publicised £78m equipment deal with Nike. McIlroy’s commercial appeal is further demonstrated by sponsorship agreements with Omega and Bose.
McIlroy believes he has a right to end that Horizon spell because it has taken too high a percentage of his sponsorship agreements. If no settlement can be reached, Horizon is set to counter-sue McIlroy for ending a five-year contract with more than half of it to run; that turn of events, needless to say, would lead to more of the golfer’s financial affairs being made public than he would prefer.
Not that money should be of concern to McIlroy. He is already way beyond that stage, regardless of the Horizon outcome. In flying to the Far East this week, he begins a spell which will net him more than US$3m (£1.9m) simply for turning up at the Korea Open, the BMW Masters and for an exhibition meeting with Tiger Woods.
The WGC Championship follows that, with McIlroy still to ensure he earns a place in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai final in mid-November. At that event a year ago, McIlroy confirmed his status as then the best player in the world with Wozniacki on hand to tease him at a post-round press conference.
Despite his claims to the contrary, it is difficult to imagine more going wrong during the intervening months as has already been the case.
Yet McIlroy remains a decent, engaging character despite those who have sought to demonise his personality simply because he has endured a torrid professional spell. In one particularly fierce article, published in the United States, McIlroy was portrayed in what is actually a wholly unfair manner for anybody who knows him.
It should be remembered that the root cause for McIlroy’s 2013 problems has been struggles on the golf course, not a switch into an alter ego. That must also be placed against both an exceptional 2012 and McIlroy’s relative youth. Throughout his career, even as an amateur, McIlroy has never been super-consistent.
In that playing sense, McIlroy’s superb driving deserted him in the first part of this year. His putting, which had improved dramatically last season, has also regressed. In a technical sense, McIlroy’s swing has a tendency to move off plane – or line – which triggers poor shots in both directions and therefore blunts his confidence. Not only will McIlroy know all that, he will be determined to have it fixed by the time a new year arrives.
The logical assumption is that such work is tougher when there is too much noise in the background.
If there are consolations for McIlroy as he settles in Seoul today; at least for now he is thousands of miles away from distraction, and it would seem impossible to have another year quite like this one.

This article titled “Why Rory McIlroy cannot wait for 2013 to finish” was written by Ewan Murray, for

© Guardian News & Media Limited 2013

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