GOLF world No1 Rory McIlroy could end up paying out more than two thirds of his career prize money to date after agreeing a costly settlement with his former management company yesterday.
No details of the deal were made public but it is believed McIlroy is to pay between £15m and £20m to Horizon Sports Management after last-minute talks avoided a lengthy hearing at Dublin’s High Court. He is also to pay both parties’ legal costs, estimated at £4m.
The Northern Irish four-time Major winner has already raked in approximately £29m in prize money since turning professional in 2007, just four months after his 17th birthday.
McIlroy has also banked tens of millions of pounds more in sponsorship and endorsement income from the likes of Nike, with whom he has a five-year deal worth £66m, Santander, Omega and Bose.
The bitter dispute with Horizon had dragged on for more than a year and centred on his departure from the company in 2013.
McIlroy sued the agency, which is owned by Conor Ridge and also represents players Ross Fisher and Shane Lowry, claiming he had been coerced into signing an “unconscionable” contract with unfair terms.
Horizon strongly disputed the allegations and launched a counter-action against McIlroy, accusing him of breach of contract and demanding millions in outstanding fees.
McIlroy appeared in court on Tuesday for the start of the hearing, which had been expected to last eight weeks but was adjourned repeatedly as lawyers attempted to thrash out an 11th-hour agreement. He was not present yesterday morning when both parties issued a joint statement confirming the row was over.
“The legal dispute between Rory McIlroy and Horizon Sports Management has been settled to the satisfaction of both parties who wish each other well for the future,” it read.
The two-time European money list winner flew in for the hearing fresh from winning the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday. His next event is set to be the Honda Classic at Palm Beach, Florida, in three weeks’ time.
McIlroy and his father Gerry remained at the Four Courts complex until late on Tuesday night in an indication that the parties may have been close to settling.