Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Graeme McDowell enjoying success in business

Ryder Cup heroes: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy
Ryder Cup heroes: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy

It's a measure of Graeme McDowell's corporate image and the work of his back-room team at Horizon Sports Management that, in his six years since joining the Dublin firm, he's built-up a phenomenal portfolio of sponsors.

The Ulsterman's long-standing relationship with blue chip brands like Mastercard, BMW, RBC, Verizon, Ecco, Audermars Piguet, Teneo and, of course, Srixon, place him in the upper echelons of golf's corporate pecking order, behind only the big three of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and fellow Ulsterman Rory McIlroy.

"Once they get to know Graeme, every sponsor wants to stick with him," says his agent Conor Ridge, adding: "Put him in front of a corporate audience and he's absolute dynamite, while it's humbling to see how well he relates to people on a one-to-one basis.

"He might meet someone for the first time in months, but will remember where their kids are going to college or ask if they've managed to cure that hook or slice they were struggling with," adds Ridge. "Graeme's very intelligent, smart and quite a good businessman himself."

Among his own business projects, McDowell opened the Nona Blue Bistro this year and says: "We've had a lot of fun. At the minute, it's just a hobby.

"I'd have aspirations to get more involved in the future," he adds.

While McDowell got caught in the crossfire when McIlroy quit Horizon and launched into a legal battle with the Dublin firm, he recently insisted his friendship with the Holywood native remained intact.

"I'm very close to both parties, but it hasn't affected any personal relationships," he explains.

"The fact I'm stuck in the middle of a legal matter is a tough scenario – it's tough for everyone. But as far as I am concerned, Rory and I will always remain competitors, colleagues, peers and friends. I care a lot about what he does; I care a lot about how good he is and that'll never change."

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