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The latest in the awkward relationship between PGA golfers and those on the Saudi Arabian-backed LIV golf tour involved a tee shot from, of all people, Patrick Reed, who plays on the LIV tour, towards the out-and-out Rory McIlroy, one of the PGA’s outspoken leaders .
McIlroy admitted he was unaware of the incident at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, which both are playing in this week. McIlroy recalled that Reed “came up to say hello, and I didn’t really want him to.” Just then, Reed pulled a T-shirt from his pocket and, according to Reed, “flicked it” at McIlroy.
“I was downstairs with my bag and he came towards me. I was busy working and sort of doing my practice. I didn’t feel the need to acknowledge him,” McIlroy said (via Golf Digest). “I didn’t see a tee shot in my direction at all, but apparently that’s what happened. And if the roles were reversed and I threw that shirt at him, I would expect a lawsuit.”
Rory on Patrick Reed’s dismissal:
“I didn’t see a tee my way at all, but apparently that’s exactly what happened. And if the roles were reversed and I threw that tee at him, I’d expect a lawsuit.”pic.twitter.com/thXPfvz5Kp
— Dylan Dethier (@dylan_dethier) January 25, 2023
After McIlroy spoke, Reed told Golf Digest that he reached out to McIlroy and his caddy Harry Diamond to say hello. “Because of the relationship I had with Rory…let’s be honest we had some great fights at Augusta and other tournaments and our friendship was pretty good until we obviously got into LIV.”
He and Diamond shook hands, he said, but McIlroy was “just looking down there and fiddling with his Trackman [device] and decided to kind of ignore us. We all know where it came from – being a part of LIV. Since my t-shirts are Team Aces LIV t-shirts, I slipped one to him. It was kind of a fun shot back. Funny how a little streak turned out to be basically me stabbing him and throwing him a t-shirt.
“He saw me and decided not to react. It’s a shame because we’ve always had a good relationship. … But it’s one of those things — if you act like an immature little child, you might as well be treated like one.”
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The timing of a subpoena in Reed’s $750 million defamation lawsuit against TV analyst Brandel Chamblee and the Golf Channel is another point of contention between the two. Reed alleges Chamblee and PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan conspired to defame him for joining LIV Golf, and McIlroy was subpoenaed to testify about a meeting between PGA players that took place last year.
“I was summoned by his attorney on Christmas Eve,” McIlroy said. “Trying to have a good time with my family and someone shows up on your doorstep and delivers it, you’re not going to take that well. I live in reality, I don’t know where he lives. If I were him, I wouldn’t expect a hello or a handshake.”
When asked by a reporter if he would “one day… fix bridges” with Reed, McIlroy, according to the minute taker of the press conferenceShe simply replied with an “incredulous expression on her face”.
Thus begins the first tournament of 2023 for McIlroy and the second season for the LIV, which begins next month with Greg Norman at the helm, despite requests from McIlroy and Tiger Woods to leave him if the PGA and LIV enter into a relationship should have . But a recent reorganization at LIV Golf gave Norman even more power in the organization, and McIlroy had a salty opinion on it.
“If the chief executive doesn’t have a leadership team, I don’t know how strong that is,” McIlroy said. “… [H]He can’t do it himself. He has to rely on a team like we all rely on teams to get things done. When you start operating alone, it becomes quite difficult.”