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Rory McIlroy: Still friends with McDowell

VIRGINIA WATER, England (AP) - Rory McIlroy has dispelled any split in his relationship with longtime friend Graeme McDowell.

McDowell confirmed that McIlroy will be leaving Dublin-based Horizon Sports Management after only 18 months, though neither McIlroy nor Conor Ridge at Horizon have commented on the split.

When asked about his management Tuesday at Wentworth, McIlroy said, ``Go ask GMac. He knows more than me.''

The two U.S. Open champions from Northern Ireland will be in the same group for the opening two rounds of the BMW PGA Championship, which starts Thursday.

``I know what I said yesterday and I guess at the time I meant that but it is what it is and it's water under the bridge and away we go,'' McIlroy said. ``I spoke to Graeme yesterday afternoon, and when we got back to the hotel we had a chat. Everything's good. So there won't be any quid pro quo at the wrong time the next few days or any stuff like that.

``I'm great friends with Graeme. He's been like a big brother to me on tour,'' McIlroy said. ``I remember playing a practice rounds with him at the Dunhill Links back in 2007 when I got my card. He really showed me the ropes out here for a couple of years, and it's great to have good friends on tour and he's somebody I consider a very good friend.''

Meanwhile, McIlroy remained mum on leaving Horizon, saying only that ``I can't comment.'' Asked if it was because of his contract with Horizon, McIlroy replied, ``Could be.''

McIlroy already has had a rough year. He missed the cut in Abu Dhabi, lost in the opening round of the Match Play Championship and walked out of the second round at the Honda Classic out of frustration. His game is slowly turning around, though he has yet to win this year and has been replaced at No. 1 by Tiger Woods.

The 24-year-old McIlroy said he doesn't consider his management issues to be a distraction with the next major only three weeks away.

``Not at all,'' he said. ``Once I get on that first tee, my mind is focused on shooting the best score possible and that has not changed and that will never change.''

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
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