The feud between two of the world’s top golfers continued Wednesday with firm LIV Golf critic Rory McIlroy saying defector Patrick Reed was not ‘living in reality’ after Reed tossed a tee towards the world number one on the practice range of the Dubai Desert Classic.
The incident, which occurred on Tuesday and was first reported by the Spanish website TenGolf, saw Reed apparently standing behind McIlroy while he was hitting balls.
When McIlroy did not turn and speak to him, Reed left and threw a tee on the ground in anger.
Reed later called McIlroy an ‘immature little child’ for the snubbing.
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The two have been at odds since McIlroy criticized players, including Reed, who joined the Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit, although McIlroy played down the incident.
“It was nothing,” the 33-year-old told a press conference.
“Patrick came up to say hello and I didn’t really want him to. From my recollection, that was it. I didn’t see a tee. I didn’t feel a tee.
“Obviously, someone else saw that. But it’s definitely a storm in a teacup. I can’t believe it’s actually turned into a story.
“I didn’t see him. I was down by my bag and he came up to me, and I was busy working and sort of doing my practice, and I didn’t really feel the need to acknowledge him.
“I didn’t see a tee coming in my direction at all, but apparently that’s what happened.
“And if roles were reversed and I’d have thrown that tee at him, I’d be expecting him to bring a lawsuit,” added McIlroy who was served a subpoena by Reed to appear as a witness in his case against the Golf Channel , Brandel Chamblee and the PGA Tour.
“I was subpoenaed by his lawyer on Christmas Eve,” said four-time major champion McIlroy.
“I was trying to have a nice time with my family and someone shows up on your doorstep and delivers that, you’re not going to take that well.
“You can’t pretend like nothing’s happening, right?
“So again, I’m living in reality. I don’t know where he lives. If I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t expect a hello or a handshake.”
“He saw me and he decided not to react. It’s unfortunate,” Reed said Daily Mail. “But it is one of those things: if you’re going to act like an immature little child then you might as well be treated like one.”
“We’ve had some great battles and our friendship has been pretty good up until obviously joining LIV,” Reed added.
“I walked over and wished Harry (Diamond, McIlroy’s caddy) Happy New Year and then Rory because it is the first time I have seen them.
“Harry shook my hand and Rory just looked down there and was messing with his Trackman (device) and decided to ignore me. He saw me and he decided not to react.
“We all know where it came from – being part of LIV. Since my tees are Team Aces LIV tees I flicked him one. It was kind of a funny shot back. Funny how a small little flick has turned into basically me stabbing him and throwing a tee at him.”
– WHEELS IN MOTION –
McIlroy said he felt mentally drained towards the end of last season because of everything going on outside the ropes, supporting the PGA Tour against the rise of LIV Golf.
“On reflection, I felt like I needed to take on quite a lot,” said McIlroy. “But I think getting the wheels in motion of how hopefully the new system and the new structure of professional golf will be, it took a lot of effort last year.
“But now those wheels are in motion and we just have to try to tidy up the schedule for 2024. But I feel like most of the heavy lifting was done last year.”
McIlroy is in Dubai to start his new season as the world number one. Last year, he narrowly missed the title when he dumped his second shot on the 72nd hole into the water guarding the par-five green, and the resulting bogey forced him to miss the play-off by one shot.
Viktor Hovland prevailed on the first extra hole against Richard Bland.
“I’ve had a lot of great memories and success over the years in the Emirates, but I feel like I have a little bit of unfinished business with how the tournament ended for me last year. (It) Wasn’t quite the way I wanted to finish it off,” said McIlroy, who won his first title as a professional at the event in 2009.
“But I went on from that week and played really well and had a great year. “It’s been nice to try to take a little bit of time away and try to distance myself from the game of golf for at least a month or two, and recharge and reset and try to start 2023 with renewed optimism, a full tank and ready to go.”