McIlroy is his own man: McDowell

Graeme McDowell firmly resists any assertions that he was some way involved with Rory McIlroy’s decision to leave his management group ISM for Dublin based Horizon Sports.

Fuel had been poured onto the fire following remarks made recently by Lee Westwood, an ISM player, who described McIlroy’s decision as “bizarre”.

Graeme McDowell Graeme McDowell (Credit: Anthony Powter)

The fact Westwood and McIlroy had been paired together for the start of this week’s Shanghai Masters also questioned the motivation of the tournament’s promotors, who arguably were looking to add a bit of fire to their new $5m event in China on the back of Westwood’s remarks.

Back in Valderrama, Spain, McDowell was facing a barrage of media questions on McIlroy’s latest career move.

McDowell was on the eve of his defence of the Andalucia Masters on the European Tour and was more interested in fielding questions about his chances of successive titles in Spain than commenting on his mate’s decision.

It’s well known that McIlroy and Westwood have in the past fired each other up. Westwood currently holds the world’s number two ranking by the narrowest of margins over McIlroy, who is third.

Tweets have flown between the two resembling soft body blows regarding their opinions to each other’s game.

Tongue-in-check or something more sinister? Either way it’s clear the two aren’t on each other’s Christmas card list.

Westwood’s latest remark is another chapter in this never-ending rivalry.

McDowell had found himself in the middle of golf’s latest divorce. McIlroy is his closest friend in golf, while Westwood was a team-mate at ISM until four years ago, when McDowell left for Horizon.

McDowell insisted he played no part in McIlroy’s decision to walk out on long-time agent Chubby Chandler and move in with Horizon.

“I’d strongly resent any suggestion that I, in some way, enticed Rory to join Horizon,” he said, explaining he values their friendship too much to risk it by trying to influence a career decision so great.

McDowell believes it was one only McIlroy himself should make and did in fact make.

“People who accuse me of enticing Rory clearly don’t know me very well and don’t know him very well either.”

Yet still the questions kept coming, as if certain members of the media knew something McDowell didn’t or at least was not letting on to know.

“I would never give Rory the big sell on Horizon,” said McDowell.

“All I told him was that I was there for him as a neutral sounding-board. I purposely took a back seat and I know in my heart that I’ve done that well and honestly.”

McDowell wears his pride on his sleeve and is a seasoned journeyman on tour. He’s being around long enough to know how the sport and the rumour mill operates.

The world number fifteen’s words were carefully chosen and had purpose.

“So I can look Chubby in the eye and know I’ve done him no wrong. It’s business and Rory has made a business decision. There’s nothing personal about it.”

McDowell then shot down Westwood’s dismissal of McIlroy’s decision as “bizarre,” saying: “That’s Lee’s opinion.”

“Rory is a very intelligent young man. He’s very headstrong and impulsive. He makes his own decisions and really never was going to listen to me.”