The drama between Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed is intensifying after the golf tee throw heard ’round the world on Tuesday.
It was reported that while on the driving range at Emirates Golf Club warming up for the Dubai Desert Classic on the DP World Tour, Reed – one of the highest-profile defections to the controversial, Saudi-backed LIV Golf – approached McIlroy, the World No. 1 golfer, in an attempt to say hi. McIlroy ignored him, and after a couple more attempts to get his attention, Reed threw a golf tee at McIlroy and stormed off in disgust.
A possible video of the incident has emerged and is making the rounds on social media. While the “throw” seems like more of a light toss in McIlroy’s direction, the Northern Irishman can surely be seen wanting nothing to do with Reed.
Speaking to reporters at a pre-tournament press conference, McIlroy admitted he snubbed Reed, while the American confirmed he tossed in the Northern Irishman’s direction.
“Patrick came up to say hello and I didn’t really want him to,” McIlroy said. “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, it’s nothing.”
McIlroy elaborated on the source of his frustration with Reed, saying that on Christmas Eve, a lawyer served McIlroy a subpoena to appear in court in relation to Reed’s lawsuit against the Golf Channel and analyst Brandel Chamblee.
“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,” McIlroy said.
“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.”
McIlroy later addressed the tee again, saying: “I didn’t see a tee coming 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 a lawsuit.”
Reed, not one to go quietly, then explained his side of the story after McIlroy’s presser was over.
“I walked over there and wished [McIlroy’s caddie] Harry [Diamond] Happy New Year and then Rory, because it is the first time I have seen them,” Reed told reporters. “Harry shook my hand and Rory just looked down there and was messing with his Trackman (device) and kind of decided to ignore us.
“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.
“It’s unfortunate because we’ve always had a good relationship. 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.”
Reed also claimed the subpoena had nothing to do with him.
McIlroy, 33, and Reed, 32, were once known for their intense Ryder Cup battles. Now, the feud has taken a decidedly different turn.
The Dubai Desert Classic begins Wednesday night in the U.S. and features a number of top golfers from around the world, including McIlroy, Reed, Shane Lowry, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrell Hatton, and more. LIV Golfers are currently allowed to participate in DP World Tour events, though they have been suspended by the PGA Tour.