Legal worries a distraction in tough 2013, says McIlroy

Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:34pm EST
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By Matt Smith

DUBAI (Reuters) - Legal problems were a distraction which affected his golf this year, former world number one Rory McIlroy said on Tuesday as he prepared to defend the World Tour Championship title he won in sizzling style last year.

The 24-year-old from Northern Ireland birdied the final five holes in Dubai 12 months ago to claim his second tour title of the year and finish top of both the European and U.S. money lists.

In a barren 2013, however, he has tumbled to sixth in the world rankings.

That slump followed McIlroy's sponsorship switch to Nike in January, which prompted a former sponsor, American sportswear company Oakley, to launch legal action against him.

In September he terminated his contract with Dublin-based Horizon Sports Management to form his own management company and the acrimonious split has now reached the courts.

"It's something that I don't really think any athlete or anyone should ever go through," McIlroy told reporters.

"I've seen more lawyers' offices and more lawyers this year than I care to see in my entire life. It's not something I ever want to go through again and I'm making sure that I won't ever go through it again."

The twice major winner said his legal worries did not directly result in him hitting specific bad shots.   Continued...

Team Europe golfer Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland bends backwards as he misses a birdie putt to halve the seventh hole during the morning foursomes round at the 39th Ryder Cup golf matches at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois September 29, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Blake