Rory withdraws due to legal issues

Rory McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the World Golf Rankings, has withdrawn from the first two events of the European Tour’s Final Series this week and next to prepare for a trial that is expected to take place in February.

McIlroy, who leads the Euro Tour’s Race to Dubai, will not play in the BMW Masters at Lake Malaren Golf Club and the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club, both in Shanghai.

“I’m going to need time away from tournament golf to prepare for the trial over my legal dispute with Horizon Sports Management,” McIlroy said in a statement. “The court-directed mediation process failed … to resolve the issue.”

The release did not say if he will play in the last two Euro events, the Turkish Airlines Open and the DP World Tour Championship-Dubai.

McIlroy is involved in a legal dispute with Horizon, his former management company and court-ordered mediation talks between the two parties recently failed to bring an agreement.

With the case going to court in February in Dublin, Ireland, McIlroy and his handlers are concerned about how it will affect his early 2014 schedule and preparation for the Masters, in which he will attempt to complete the Career Grand Slam.

Media reports in the United Kingdom suggested the trial might take as long as two weeks, with McIlroy expected to spend much of the time on the witness stand.

McIlroy has sued Dublin-based Horizon, claiming that he was coaxed into signing an “unconscionable contract” which included “excessive commissions.”

Horizon countersued, charging McIlroy with breach of contract and claiming loss of commissions against its former client, who has set up his own management firm, Rory McIlroy Inc.

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