The trial of Rory McIlroy’s lawsuit against Horizon Sports Management may not last long. After 42 seconds of brief summary remarks, the court suspended the trial until 9 a.m. ET (2 p.m. GMT). The parties returned to court and were given an additional two hours’ suspension.
Reporters at the Irish Commercial Court in Dublin suspect lawyers for McIlroy and Horizon are negotiating a settlement so the trial can be avoided. A pre-trial Telegraph report suggested McIlroy’s camp offered a $12 million settlement during court-mandated mediation efforts in September — a deal Horizon rejected.
McIlroy sued Horizon and other companies in October 2013, claiming he signed an unfair deal for Horizon and its principle Conor Ridge to represent him. The four-time major winner claims the terms of the contract called for commissions and fees that are not in line with a player of his caliber or the sport of pro golf. Horizon countersued McIlroy, looking to recoup unpaid commissions called for by the contract, including on an over $100 million deal with Nike.
The Ulsterman signed with Horizon in October 2011, leaving Chubby Chandler’s International Sports Management for the then-boutique firm, courted in large part by fellow countryman Graeme McDowell. In March 2013, despite the claimed abhorrent terms of the initial deal, McIlroy signed a multi-year extension with Horizon. He then broke that contract just months later, opting to form Rory McIlroy Inc. to represent his own interests. McIlroy’s lawsuit mentioned that his terms were inferior to those of McDowell’s deal. The 2010 U.S. Open champion parted ways with Horizon on amicable terms at the end of 2014.
The pre-trial hearings have been messy for McIlroy, with Horizon lawyers claiming McIlroy timed his lawsuit to coincide with McDowell’s wedding in 2013, as well that McIlroy, his father Gerry and an associate wiped several mobile phones of information pertinent to the case. McIlroy missed a pair of European Tour events in China in November, including the WGC-HSBC Champions, he said to prepare for the trial.
McIlroy won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday by three shots. He isn’t expected to play tournament golf again until the Honda Classic on the PGA Tour in Florida, starting Feb. 26.