Rory McIlroy Snubs Patrick Reed In Dubai Resulting In Tee Toss, War Of Words

The ongoing saga of LIV Golf’s emergence in the professional golf landscape added another chapter in Dubai this week. It involved one man throwing a sharp wooden object at another.

That sharp wooden object, of course, was a small golf tee tossed in the direction of Rory McIroy by LIV defector Patrick Reed after McIlroy chose not to greet Reed on the practice range at Emirates Golf Club on Tuesday.

Reed approached McIlroy and his caddie, Harry Diamond, at the end of the range. Reed shook hands with Diamond, and then appeared to extend his hand to McIlroy. McIlroy never looked up from his golf bag, and the former Masters champ then turned around and walked away, but not before reaching into his pocket and tossing a tee in McIlroy’s direction.

The report of the interaction (or lack thereof) took Golf Twitter by storm on Tuesday morning, with neither party having addressed the incident. Since then, both teams have provided comment about the now infamous tee toss.

According to Twitter account @groupchatgolf, a source “close to Reed” said that he approached McIlroy and Diamond to say Happy New Year, then shook hands with Diamond and tried to do the same with McIlroy. After the world no. 1 ignored him, Reed grabbed a 4 Aces tee from his pocket and tossed it toward Rory, saying, “Well, go Aces.”

Reed’s brother-in-law and caddie Kessler Karrain appeared to confirm this account in an Instagram comment on a post sharing the tweet.

“When you gotta go the meme pages for your news,” he wrote. Reed later gave his account of the interaction, as well.

“He saw me and he decided not to react,” Reed told the Daily Mail. “It’s unfortunate because we’ve always had a good relationship. 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.”

McIlroy was asked about the incident during his Wednesday media availability, and he stood by his decision to ignore Reed while downplaying the whole thing.

“Patrick wanted to come up and say hello, and I didn’t really want him to,” said McIlroy. “From my recollection, that was it. I didn’t see a tee, I didn’t feel a tee, I didn’t whatever. Obviously, someone else saw that, but it’s definitely a storm in a teacup. I can’t believe it’s actually turned into a story.”

A reporter pushed further on the incident in the press room, saying Reed had thrown the tee down “in disgust, as probably anyone would do when you approach someone and don’t get an answer.” He then asked if Rory could see himself “mending those bridges” with Reed. Rory gave no verbal response, and Twitter enjoyed how the press conference transcript handled it.

McIlroy also used his time with the media to get in a quick jab at Reed, who has filed several lawsuits against different golf media outlets and personalities and recently threatened another against CNN.

“If roles were reversed and I’d have thrown that tee at him,” McIlroy said, “I’d be expecting him (to file) a lawsuit.”

A federal judge dismissed Reed’s defamation case against Golf Channel and Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee on Friday. He still has a separate defamation lawsuit pending against Fox Sports, The New York Post, and author Shane Ryan, among others.

Those lawsuits seemed to play a role in McIlroy’s unwillingness to engage with him on Tuesday.

“I was subpoenaed by his lawyer on Christmas Eve,” McIlroy said in an interview with Sky Sports. “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.”

While Reed’s PGA Tour status has been suspended due to his participation in the LIV Golf series, he’s still able to participate in DP World Tour events thanks to an injunction in the UK court system.

He is playing in this week’s Hero Dubai Desert Classic, the second leg of the DP World Tour’s Middle East swing. Reed missed the cut at last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

McIlroy is making his 2023 debut in Dubai this week as well. He finished solo third in last year’s event, while Reed did not play.