By Cathal McNaughton
DUBLIN (Reuters) - Lawyers for Rory McIlroy requested that the start of the world number one golfer's case with his former agents be deferred for a second time on Tuesday as the two sides "make progress" ahead of a possible eight weeks in court.
The four-times major winner terminated his contract with Horizon Sports Management in September 2013 to form his own company, prompting a protracted dispute which forced McIlroy to take time away from the golf course to prepare for the case.
Dressed in a navy blue suit and wearing black-rimmed glasses, the 25-year-old Northern Irishman arrived at Dublin's High Court on Tuesday to a scrum of some 30 photographers and camera crews amid intense international media interest.
His lawyer Paul Gallagher was granted an initial request to defer until 1400 GMT in order to "narrow the issues at hand" and returned to ask for an additional two hours, telling the court both sides were "making progress."
After signing a number of lucrative sponsorship agreements, including a deal with Nike in early 2013 worth a guaranteed $100 million over five years, McIlroy decided that his relationship with Horizon was no longer in his best interests.
McIlroy, who will probably take the stand at some point, is suing his former agents over the "unconscionable" contract he signed, while Horizon are counter-suing him on the grounds that he owes them millions of dollars in commission on contracts up to 2017.
Irish bookmaker Paddy Power thinks it likely the case will be settled, offering odds of 1/3 on the two sides reaching agreement outside court and 9/4 on the trial being decided by a verdict.
(Writing by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Ed Osmond)