Rory McIlroy claimed Wednesday that he never saw Patrick Reed flick a tee in his direction in Dubai, but he also made clear that there will be no love lost between the two major champions.
McIlroy was responding to a question about a reported incident Tuesday ahead of the Dubai Desert Classic, where Reed, wishing to say hello to McIlroy in his first start of 2023, felt as though he was snubbed by the world No. 1 and then tossed a tee in McIlroy’s direction.
McIlroy told reporters that he never saw it.
“I can’t believe it’s actually turned into a story,” he said of the incident, which was first reported by the Irish Independent. “Yeah, it’s nothing.”
But McIlroy did recall the first part of the story – that Reed approached him on the range and “I didn’t feel the need to acknowledge him.”
Video, released online Wednesday by media outlet TenGolf, confirmed as much:
“I was subpoenaed by his lawyer on Christmas Eve,” McIlroy explained. “So of course, 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.
“So again, I’m living in reality, I don’t know where he’s living. If I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t expect a hello or a handshake.”
Larry Klayman, who is part of Reed’s team of lawyers, has alleged that McIlroy, Davis Love III and Tiger Woods are co-conspirators in the PGA Tour’s antitrust scheme to destroy the LIV Golf League. Reed confirmed to a few reporters on-site in Dubai that this particular lawsuit was not issued by him (he is involved in other defamation cases), but rather as part of the larger antitrust lawsuit against the Tour.
According to documents provided by Freedom Watch, Klayman’s public interest group, McIlroy was indeed served his subpoena at 3:50 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
“Like, you can’t pretend like nothing’s happening, right?” McIlroy said of Reed. “We are living in reality here.”
If the roles were reversed and McIlroy had thrown the tee, he said, “I’d be expecting a lawsuit.”
Later Wednesday, Reed explained his side of the story, telling Golf Digest's John Huggan and a few other outlets that he shook McIlroy’s caddie Harry Diamond’s hand, but not McIlroy’s, as the video showed.
“Rory just looked down there and was messing with his Trackman and kind of decided to ignore us,” Reed said, according to Golf Digest. “We all knew 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.
“He saw me, and he decided not to react. It’s unfortunate because we’ve always had a good relationship. … But it’s one of those things, if you’re going to act like an immature little child, then you might as well be treated like one.”
When asked in his press conference if he could ever see mending his relationship with Reed, with whom he has battled in the Ryder Cup and the Masters, McIlroy said nothing.
The media-center transcriptionist simply noted: “Incredulous facial expression.”