Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed In Petty Spat With Tee-Throwing, Name-Calling

'We're living in a reality here -- he's not'

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January 25

The 2023 golf year is not even a month old, and we’ve already seen some petty drama between Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed, two big names on opposite sides of the sport’s biggest war.

Both Reed and McIlroy are in Dubai for the Dubai Desert Classic this week. Reed, who currently is part of the LIV Golf tour, is able to play in this week’s tournament because it is on the DP World Tour. There’s ongoing litigation about potentially blocking players from the renegade tour from playing on the former European tour, but until then, Reed and his tourmates are allowed to tee it up in these tournaments.

And speaking of tees and teeing it up, Reed made headlines earlier in the week when reports surfaced that he flicked a tee at McIlroy after the outspoken LIV critic supposedly gave Reed the cold shoulder on the range. The story was sensationalized a little bit, as the uncovered video doesn’t exactly show Reed winding up and chucking a tee at McIlroy’s face or anything.

It does, however, show a pretty awkward encounter. McIlroy, the face of the PGA Tour, had his weekly press conference Wednesday in the desert, and he was quite blunt about the situation.

“I didn’t see it. I was down by my bag, and he came up to me and I was busy working and sort of doing my practice,” McIlroy explained at his press conference. “I didn’t really feel like, I didn’t feel the need to acknowledge him. I didn’t see a tee coming my direction at all, but apparently, that’s what happened. If roles were reversed and I had thrown that tee at him, I’d be expecting a lawsuit.”

That’s a not-so-subtle dig at the legal activity of Reed and his family, who have been quite busy handing out lawsuits. Reed, for example, sought $750 million in damages against the Golf Channel and its analyst, Brandel Chamblee, for saying mean things about Reed as he made the jump to LIV. McIlroy, who was reportedly subpoenaed in September to testify about a players meeting on the PGA Tour, revealed Wednesday he also was subpoenaed on Christmas Eve.

“Like, you can’t pretend like nothing’s happening, right?” McIlroy went on. “I think that’s the thing, like why — we’re living in a reality here, (and) he’s not.”

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McIlroy went a little deeper on Christmas Eve in an interview with Sky Sports shortly after the presser.

“Of course, I’m just 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 said in (the press conference) I’m living in reality, and I don’t know where he’s living. If I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t expect a hello or a handshake either.”

Reed gave his side of the story, too, saying he just wanted to wish McIlroy and his caddie a happy new year.

“We all know where it came from — being part of LIV,” Reed told reporters, according to the Daily Mail. “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.”

Then, Reed got a little more pointed: “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.”

While Reed will never be able to match the totality of McIlroy’s on- and off-course legacy as a professional golfer, he has gotten the better of McIlroy when battling head-to-head. Reed beat McIlroy in an unforgettable Ryder Cup match in 2016, and when Reed won the Masters in 2018, he did so paired alongside McIlroy in the final round. McIlroy shot a 2-over 74, and Reed shot a 3-under 71.

It would be high entertainment for them to square off again at Augusta this spring — Reed gets an invite back as a former champion — but golf fans would likely settle for a final-round pairing between the two as early as this weekend in Dubai.

Thumbnail photo via Peter van den Berg/USA TODAY Sports Images
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