Reed brands McIlroy 'an immature child' as war of words between pair rumbles on 

Day Two of bizarre episode as divisions between PGA Tour standard bearer and American Patrick Reed appear to deepen in Dubai: 'He saw me and he decided not to react. 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.'
Reed brands McIlroy 'an immature child' as war of words between pair rumbles on 

FROSTY: USA's Patrick Reed and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy.

American golfer Patrick Reed has branded Rory McIlroy 'an immature child' as the war of words between the pair rumbles on after their altercation prior to the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.

Reed flicked a tee in disgust at McIlroy on the driving range in Dubai after being blanked by the world No 1 in the continuing freeze over LIV's breakaway golf tour.

“Because of the relationship I’ve had with Rory — let’s be honest, we’ve had some great battles at Augusta and other tournaments, and our friendships been pretty good up until obviously joining LIV — I walked over there and wished Harry (Diamond, McIlroy’s caddie) Happy New Year and then Rory because it is the first time I have seen them,” he told The Daily Mail.

“Harry shook my hand and Rory just looked down there and was messing with his Trackman and kind of decided to ignore us. We all know 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. 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.”

That comes after McIlroy indicated he's not going to be two-faced or duplicitous in his spat with Reed. 

McIlroy revealed Wednesday that he'd received court papers at his Florida home on Christmas Eve, saying: "You can't pretend like nothing's happening, right?"

“Patrick came up to say hello and I didn’t really want him to,” McIlroy said. “From my recollection, that was it. I didn’t see a tee. I didn’t feel a tee. 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, it’s nothing.

“I was subpoenaed by his lawyer on Christmas Eve. 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 has launched a defamation case against the Golf Channel and its analyst Brandel Chamblee, whom he alleges conspired with the PGA Tour’s commissioner Jay Monahan to defame him. Reed’s lawyers have not responded to a request from The Guardian for comment about this week’s incident but the player himself denies throwing the tee at his fellow player.

McIlroy added: “I was down by my bag and he came up to me. I was busy working and sort of doing my practise. I didn’t feel the need to acknowledge him.

“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.” 

This bizarre episode dominated discussion ahead of McIlroy’s first competitive start of 2023. There was, naturally, also chat about LIV Golf after it emerged the breakaway tour’s commissioner Greg Norman is to be handed extra powers. LIV, the domain on which Reed now plays, has been hit by two high-profile resignations since its maiden season ended in October.

“If the chief executive doesn’t have an executive team, I don’t know how strong that is,” McIlroy said. “He can’t do it himself. He needs to rely on a team just like all of us rely on teams to do things. If you are sort of operating solo, it starts to get pretty difficult.” 

ARE YOU SERIOUS? Rory McIlroy chatting with the media Wednesday in Dubai.
ARE YOU SERIOUS? Rory McIlroy chatting with the media Wednesday in Dubai.

Last year saw McIlroy emerge as the regular, unofficial spokesperson for golf’s traditional tours as LIV attempted to coax players towards Saudi Arabian millions.

“There’s no point in just being a mouthpiece when you can’t back that up by playing good golf and showing people the rewards people can have out here if they are playing well,” said the 33-year-old. “It’s a merit-based system. That’s the thing that I’ve always struggled with: if a five-year-old boy or girl know that they work hard and they shoot the scores, there’s a merit-based system in golf all the way through junior golf, amateur golf, all the way up to the professional level and they can make it to the top levels of the game.

“This is the one thing that’s come into the game that has disrupted that. It’s not a merit-based system.” 

Two wins in as many PGA Tour tournaments for Jon Rahm has reignited discussion over the validity of golf’s ranking system. Rahm is currently the world No 3. Rather than stoke the debate, McIlroy heaped praise on the Spaniard.

“We all know Jon is one of the best players in the world,” said McIlroy. “Whether there’s a one beside his name or a two beside his name, it doesn’t really matter. He’s won four of his last six events. He’s playing some of the best golf he’s played in his career. He’s not had a long career but all of his career, he’s played consistently at a very, very high level. It has been an amazing start to the year.”

Meantime, LIV has unveiled its 2023 schedule with 14 events, including three at courses owned by Donald Trump, a pre-Masters tune-up in Orlando and a $50 million team championship in Saudi Arabia.

LIV will begin its second season Feb. 24 at Mayakoba, which hosted the PGA Tour’s World Wide Technology Championship last autumn. LIV will hold only three events before the first major of the year, with a tournament scheduled for March 17-19 at The Gallery in Arizona, followed by a new event at Orange County National in Orlando on March 31-April 2, the week before the Masters.

There will be a stop in Spain at the end of June, at Valderrama's Real Club before July's tournament at the Centurion Club in London.

Guardian/Agencies

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