Rory McIlroy admits that he is ignoring Patrick Reed after his lawyers served the Northern Irishman with a court subpoena on Christmas Eve.
In a feisty final practice day at 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 himself 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,” said McIlroy, who is playing in his first tournament of 2023.
“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, for whom Reed is a member] 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.”
Origins of the feud
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 Augusta, 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 starring 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 is “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 thinks he should repair his fractured relationship with former friend Sergio Garcia, another LIV player, in the unlikely event the Spaniard appears 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, the Norman’s COO, resigned and then earlier this week it was announced that Majed Al Sooroour, the LIV MD, has 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.”