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Rory McIlroy has given his side of the story after America’s Patrick Reed reportedly threw a tee at him, saying: “If roles were reversed, I’d be expecting a lawsuit.”
The spat, on the range at the Dubai Desert Classic, has seen tensions flare up between those on Saudi-backed tour and loyalists towards the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.
After a report on Spanish website ten-golf.com claimed Reed tossed a tee in McIlroy’s direction after being snubbed, the Northern Irishman has clarified the situation.
“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,” said McIlroy.
“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 thrown that tee at him, I’d be expecting a lawsuit.”
That was a reference to the legal action Reed is taking on several fronts following his decision to join the Saudi-funded LIV Golf series.
The former Masters champion is one of 13 players involved in an arbitration case with the DP World Tour over sanctions imposed for playing the first LIV event last June and has also launched a defamation lawsuit against several media members and organisations.
The lawyer representing Reed in that case also subpoenaed McIlroy and Tiger Woods in regards to the players-only meeting that was held prior to the BMW Championship in August.
The subpoenas are part of a civil lawsuit filed in June by Larry Klayman which claims that Florida residents who bought tickets to PGA Tour events, or would in future, were damaged by the PGA Tour allegedly weakening fields by suspending players who joined LIV.
Asked if it was naive of Reed to expect a warm welcome given the circumstances, McIlroy told Sky Sports: “I was subpoenaed by his lawyer on Christmas Eve.
“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.
“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 also ruled out the possibility of repairing his previously close relationship with another LIV player, Sergio Garcia, and dismissed claims that LIV CEO Greg Norman’s position had been strengthened by Majed Al Sorour reportedly stepping down as managing director.
“If the chief executive doesn’t have an executive team, I don’t know how strong that is,” said McIlroy, whose call for Norman to step down to allow a settlement in golf’s civil war to be negotiated has been echoed by Tiger Woods.
“He can’t do it himself. He needs to rely on a team just like all of us rely on teams, right, to do things.”
PA contributed to this report