Word went around Tuesday that Patrick Reed had thrown a golf tee at Rory McIlroy on the driving range at the 2023 Dubai Desert Classic. McIlroy set the story straight on Wednesday, detailing the encounter and explaining why he was in no mood to speak with the former Masters champion.
“I was down by my bag, and he came up to me, and I was busy working and sort of doing my practice, and I didn’t really feel like … I didn’t feel the need to acknowledge him,” McIlroy said. “So, 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 throw that tee at him, I’d be expecting a lawsuit.”
Funny that McIlroy, the world No. 1 golfer, mentioned a lawsuit. He later shared that he had been subpoenaed by Larry Klayman, a member of Reed’s legal team, on Christmas Eve. The lawsuit alleges an antitrust violation claiming the McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, the PGA Tour and others are in cahoots to destroy LIV Golf. Reed himself is not an issuer in the lawsuit as he remains caught up in the countless defamation cases against various members of the media.
“I was subpoenaed by his lawyer on Christmas Eve,” McIlroy said. “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.”
No story is complete without hearing both sides, and Reed shared his own recollection of the events. Reed claims, after shaking hands with McIlroy’s caddie, Harry Diamond, he attempted to do the same with Rory only to get snubbed.
“Rory just looked down there and was messing with his Trackman and kind of decided to ignore us,” Reed told 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.”
Irony aside, this moment on the driving range in Dubai appears to be just the latest chapter of a long-term battle between the two major champions. Having previously squared off at the Masters and the Ryder Cup, if the golf gods are in fact looking down on us, a final round duel this weekend on the DP World Tour would be the next.