World number one Rory McIlroy faces a break from the sport as a Dublin courtroom is poised to take centre stage rather than a golf course early next year.
Attempts at a resolution over a contractual dispute a few days ago between lawyers representing McIlroy and his former management company, Horizon, ultimately failed, with the legal battle now poised for the courts.
“I’m going to need time away from tournament golf to prepare for the trial over my legal dispute with Horizon Sports Management,” said McIlroy via his management company.
“The court-directed mediation process failed over the weekend to resolve the issue.”
With a hearing expected to take place in February, McIlroy has opted to withdraw from two events in Shanghi at the end of this month and early next, the BMW Masters and World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions tournament, to prepare for the case, with millions of pounds at stake.
McIlroy signed to Horizon in late 2011, only to begin proceedings against them almost a year ago, alleging the contract to be “unconscionable” due to “excessive commissions”.
Via a counter lawsuit, Horizon, instrumental in McIlroy’s five-year contract with Nike worth £62m, are citing breach of contract and loss of future commissions.
Calls for an out-of-court settlement from Mr Justice Peter McGovern, who predominantly sits in the Commercial Court, fell on deaf ears.
The concern now is how the trial will affect McIlroy’s preparations for The Masters which is due to begin on April 9.
At present, McIlroy is scheduled to play in two events in the Middle East in mid-to-late January and early February, along with the Honda Classic in West Palm Beach from February 26.