Rory McIlroy is ignoring Patrick Reed after the American’s lawyers served the Northern Irishman with a court subpoena on Christmas Eve.
In a feisty final practice day at the Dubai Desert Classic, Reed labelled McIlroy “an immature child and petty” for blanking him on the range on Monday. That snub prompted Reed to toss a LIV-branded tee to McIlroy’s feet.
McIlroy claimed to be in the dark about the incident.
“I didn’t see anything and can’t actually believe this has been turned into a story,” he said. “I was down by my bag and he came up to me, and… I didn’t feel the need to acknowledge him. So I didn’t see a tee coming my direction at all, but apparently that’s what happened.
“If the roles were reversed and I’d have thrown a tee at him, I’d be expecting a lawsuit. I mean, I got a subpoena [from his lawyers] on Christmas Eve. You can’t pretend like nothing’s happening, right?
“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. 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.”
Reed also gave his version of events. “If I was still a PGA Tour member or a member of any other Tour, he would have said hello,” Reed said.
“I tried to inject some humour into the situation by flicking a Four Aces tee [the LIV team Reed plays for] to him, but it didn’t work. Before this, I’ve always thought our relationship was great. But this is the way Rory has decided to act, not just towards me, but towards every LIV golfer.”
McIlroy has become embroiled in Reed’s defamation case against the Golf Channel and PGA Tour.
Reed’s lawyer, Larry Klayman wants McIlroy and Tiger Woods to testify about the players-only meeting the duo convened at a PGA Tour event last August, after which commissioner Jay Monahan announced an overhaul to this year’s schedule with elevated events featuring $20 million prize funds. The 2018 Masters champion is playing in the same event as McIlroy for the first time since the BMW PGA Championship four months ago. At Wentworth, Reed took umbrage at McIlroy for saying “it will be hard to stomach” seeing the rebels at the DP World Tour’s flagship event.
“I feel like [Rory] making those types of comments is insulting,” Reed said in an interview that week. McIlroy was once a staunch defender of Reed – the duo starred in an extraordinary duel at the 2016 Ryder Cup – but enmity has boiled over. McIlroy looked incredulous when asked if there was any chance of a reconciliation with the controversial Texan, who stated his belief that McIlroy was “still bitter” after not only the defeat in the Ryder Cup but also the 2018 Masters, when the pair went out in the last group of the final round.
McIlroy provided a one-word answer when queried if he thought he should repair his fractured relationship with former friend Sergio Garcia, another LIV player, in the unlikely event the Spaniard were to appear in September’s Ryder Cup. “No,” he replied.
The 33-year-old has been a vocal opponent of LIV’s chief executive, Greg Norman, ever since the breakaway tour was launched last June.
In November, McIlroy called on the Australian to quit LIV, “so the adults can get in the room” to negotiate. A few weeks later, Atul Khosla, Norman’s chief operations officer, resigned.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Majed Al Sorour, the LIV managing director, had taken a step back, in part to concentrate on his role as a director of Newcastle United.
This upheaval has been widely characterised as Norman gaining yet more power.
McIlroy, however, sees it a different way. “If the chief executive doesn’t have an executive team, I don’t know how strong that is,” he said. “I mean, he can’t do it himself.
“He needs to rely on a team, just like all of us rely on our teams. You know, if you are sort of operating in a solo [sic], it starts to get pretty difficult.”
McIlroy vs Reed: How healthy respect became a public feud
By James Corrigan, Golf Correspondent
2016 Ryder Cup
Whatever else America’s victory in 2016 was remembered for, it was certain never to be forgotten because of the extraordinary eight-hole stretch produced by McIlroy and Reed in the opening singles. Reed eventually prevailed on the 18th, but rather like a heavyweight fight which goes to the last bell, both of the protagonists seem victors. After trading blow after blow, the eighth hole witnessed an all-time classic matchplay moment.
From 60 feet, McIlroy holed for birdie and his reaction was the most exuberant of his career, including his four majors. He roared and shouted to the crowd, "I can't hear you", while cupping his hand to his ear. A few minutes later, he could, most definitely, hear them when Reed holed his 25-footer for the half. Reed waved his finger at his Ulster rival and proceeded to do his own brand of nuts. Laughing, McIlroy waited on the edge of the green for Reed and the pair bumped fists and wrap arms around each other.
As Reed’s reputation becomes more controversial, McIlroy defends him in public saying “I get on well with him” and says his passion is “good for golf”. But on the eve of the final round of the Masters, McIlroy - who is in second place, three behind Reed - declares “all the pressure is on him” and says “he's got that to deal with it and sleep on tonight”.
The Augusta crowd cheers on McIlroy, despite Reed being a local, but the American proceeds to shoot a 71 to McIlroy’s 74 and dons the green jacket. In his victory press conference, Reed turns McIlroy’s comments back on him.
“Not only did it fuel my fire a little bit, but also, it just takes the pressure off of me and adds it back to him,” he said. "I was trying to win my first major. He was trying to win the career Grand Slam. It's who could handle the pressure."
Nevertheless, McIlroy remains complimentary about Reed in future statements.
2022 BMW PGA Championship
Cracks had begun to appear in the relationship the previous year when Reed’s Twitter account defended a suspect drop with a post saying that McIlroy “did the same thing today… and didn't even call a rules official…”
When asked about the tweet McIlroy replies cryptically: “Not sure that was Patrick. Could have been someone from the Reed family, but I don’t think it was Patrick.”
Reed joins LIV in June 2022 and enters the BMW PGA Championship. McIlroy says he “will find it hard to stomach” seeing LIV golfers at Wentworth. Reed, who jumped ship to the Saudi-funded circuit for a reported £50million, calls McIlroy’s remarks “insulting”.
“Rory taking shots at the LIV guys saying they shouldn’t be here… I’ve played almost as much [on the DP World Tour} as Rory has for the past five years…. I’ve earned that spot so I should be able to play,” Reed said.
2023 Dubai Desert Classic
McIlroy receives a subpoena from Reed’s lawyer demanding the world No 1 to testify in Reed’s defamation case against the Golf Channel and PGA Tour. Three weeks later, Reed approaches McIlroy on the range at the Majlis Course where both are preparing for the Dubai Desert Classic. Reed wishes Harry Diamond, McIlroy’s caddie, a “happy new year” and then turns to the golfer who ignores him.
Reed tosses a LIV-branded tee peg at McIlroy’s feet, later saying “I was trying to be humorous”. McIlroy continues to blank him but then in his press conference asks why he should acknowledge someone who has sent him a court order.
Reed claims the subpoena has nothing to do with him and labels McIlroy “an immature child”. The pair are both due out in the first round at 7.40am, but from different tees. Reed expresses his desire to be drawn with McIlroy in the third or fourth rounds.