Graeme McDowell has admitted on the eve of this year's Open that his friend and fellow Ulsterman Rory McIlroy's legal battle with management company Horizon has strained their relationship.
G-Mac insisted, however, that it would not follow the two Northern Ireland golfers onto the course at Hoylake tomorrow, or into Europe's Ryder Cup camp.
"It's been a strain on our relationship, no doubt about it. We're not the same as we used to be," conceded McDowell.
And the Portrush man added: "Until the legal proceedings are over and done with, there's always going to be that little bit of tension in the air."
Intense speculation has surrounded the former Seve Trophy and Ryder Cup playing partners since McDowell's name was brought into Commercial Court proceedings by McIlroy's lawyers last month. Though "stuck in the middle" of the dispute, McDowell said he'd "love to play with Rory at the Ryder Cup," or at any other time, adding that any differences were "all business" and "not personal".
“A lot has been made of our relationship based on legal proceedings between Rory and Horizon,” said McDowell
“Yes, I've got a foot in both camps because I'm loyal to Horizon with everything they've done for me over the last seven or eight years.
“I'm also very loyal to Rory as a good friend, and as a partner in Ryder Cups.
“Colin (Morrissey, of Horizon) is with me and Sean (O'Flaherty, formerly of Horizon but now tour manager at Rory McIlroy Inc) is with Rory and we just don't have the same relationship.
“But there's nothing personal between us,” he stressed. “It's all business. I respect Rory as the player he is.
“I understand that things can get messy on the business side, especially when you are talking big numbers.
“I'm very keen for him and Horizon to clear things up so we can all get on with the rest of our lives.
“Would I love to tee it up with him at Gleneagles? Absolutely! Do I respect him as a player?
“Yeah, he's an incredible golfer and I expect our relationship to pick up where it left off as soon as the proceedings are over and done with.
“The only thing that exists is a tension between two camps, if you like, and I have a foot in each. So when it comes to things that are going on between him and Horizon, with my contracts involved and things like that, that's just business.
“When it comes to the Ryder Cup, I'd love to play with him. That kind of tension is not going to be there. There is no personal tension.”
McDowell is adamant that he “didn't try to sell” Horizon Sports to the Holywood native after he left International Sports Management in 2011.
“Rory will tell you this, I was a neutral,” he said. He said he advised McIlroy to “make his own decision” and that “I'd love to have you, love to see you be successful whatever happens.” The rest, McDowell said, “is all legalities and stuff.”
As for the Ryder Cup, McDowell explained the only issue he needs to resolve is “me getting my ass on the team.
“When it comes to that team room, there's always a queue out the door to see who's playing with Rory.
“I want to be that guy, because it means we're getting out there and we're winning matches.”