US Masters champion Graeme McDowell has defended himself in the press after being accused of helping his manager to poach fellow Irishman Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy recently switched agencies from Andrew ‘Chubby’ Chandler’s ISM stable (which also looks after Lee Westwood) to Dublin-based Horizon. It was widely believed that best-friend McDowell may have had something to do with it, perhaps encouraging Rory to sign for Horizon too, but McDowell has played down these reports.

“I’ve heard I’m supposed to have enticed Rory, well I purposely took a back seat in it all,” McDowell said.

“Rory makes his own decisions. I certainly wasn’t going to sway him.”

Rory himself has put it down to needing a fresh view on business. “I am now keen to move onto the next stage of my career and I feel this will be facilitated by a fresh view and a new structure around me.

“Chubby and his team have played a very important role in my success to date. I have made great progress under their management and for that I will always be grateful.”