Has Ernie another steal on his mind?

Open champion Ernie Els is causing upset at his former management company, who fear he is trying to recruit some of their best players for his new agency.

Els left Chubby Chandler’s ISM a year ago to join the Florida-based ProsInc and he has kept close links with his South African compatriots at ISM — George Coetzee, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel — including offering them travel to tournaments in his private jet.

Open champ: Ernie Els may have another prize on his mind

Open champ: Ernie Els may have another prize on his mind

ISM also have conflict-of-interest concerns about Els working for ProsInc in such a way when still a leading player, and Chandler intends to have talks with his former client to clarify  his intentions.

Chandler has responded to the threat of losing the South African quartet by devoting more resources to them.

Meanwhile, commission claims made by another American golf agency, Gaylord, against ISM have been resolved. The claims related to ISM’s Oakley sunglasses sponsorship deal for Rory McIlroy set up before he switched to the Horizon agency.

The unhealthy stranglehold event agents IMG enjoy at Wimbledon and The Open was even more evident at Lytham than at SW19. The IMG-run online TV operation @the Open Live featured plenty of footage plugging the R&A’s seven patron partners, whose £1.4million-a-year sponsorship deals were set up in some cases — including Ralph Lauren Polo’s latest — by the omnipresent IMG.

Toilet surprise

The biggest surprise of The Open for Royal Lytham’s lady captain, Wendy Barnsley, was not anything that happened on the course but what confronted her in the women’s toilets in the clubhouse. Wendy walked in during the second day of the championship to find a man in a state of undress using the facility to change clothes. When asked what he was doing there, the intruder said he could change where he liked following the Equalities Act. Neither the club nor the R&A would comment yesterday.

Faldo switch

Sir Nick Faldo, who has changed wives and management at regular intervals, now has his American partner LeslieAnne Wade represent him through her company Wade Media Management. LeslieAnne is a former communications chief at CBS Sports for whom Faldo works as the lead golf pundit. As well as commentating for the BBC at The Open, Faldo will also be part of the Beeb’s Ryder Cup highlights coverage.

When work and home life meet: Nick Faldo

When work and home life meet: Nick Faldo

Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal famously lost his cool in the press conference after the American victory in 2008 against the Faldo-led Europeans. Olazabal, a vice-captain then, was defending Faldo’s heavily criticised leadership. How Olazabal handles the media will be an issue in Chicago. Faldo, for one, believes he will cope fine, saying the spat with the press four years ago was due to the Spaniard’s comments being ‘lost in translation’. Olazabal speaks perfect English.

Win double for Owen

Not only did his Manor House stables send out three winners at Haydock Park on Saturday but Michael Owen’s encounter there with golf agent and keen gambler Chubby Chandler led to a promise he would buy a horse off the footballer.

The next day Owen had a chance to sell his football wares when the out-of-contract striker had breakfast as a guest of Chandler with Bolton chairman Phil Gartside.

Winner: Michael Owen had some luck with the horses

Winner: Michael Owen had some luck with the horses

Well done Alliss

Credit to Peter Alliss — four words that don’t often appear in Sports Agenda — for his comment that the price of food and drink at The Open was ‘borderline disgraceful’. The R&A’s explanation for the rip-off is that a greenfield site means catering has to be brought in, adding to the cost.

Turkey shorts plan

The Turkish Airlines World Golf Finals in October, part of Istanbul’s 2020 Olympic bid, will have the eight-strong field wearing shorts, which is not allowed on the pro tour. Turkey wants to improve standards enough to have a player competing when golf joins the Olympics in 2016. World No 1 Luke Donald  has withdrawn from the event because of his schedule.