Rory McIlroy admitted he ignored Patrick Reed here on Monday, but said the American had no right to expect to be welcomed with open arms after his lawyers served a Northern Irishman with a court summons on Christmas Eve.
In a fiery press conference at the Dubai Desert Classic, McIlroy held back his constant criticism from LIV Golf – claiming that Greg Norman’s position has been weakened, not strengthened, by a series of management departures at the Saudi-funded circuit.
But after the bizarre events at the Majlis training ground, it was the world No. 1 statements about Reed that inevitably attracted the most attention.
A sketchy report in the Spanish media described Reed throwing a tee in McIlroy’s direction after being blindfolded, and while McIlroy has no idea of this alleged incident – “I saw nothing and I can’t believe it was turned into a story” – he recognized that the greeting Reed was left unanswered.
“I was at the bag and he came up to me and … I didn’t feel the need to recognize him,” said McIlroy, who is playing his first tournament in 2023.
“So I didn’t see the shirt coming my way at all, but apparently it did. If the tables were reversed and I threw that shirt at him, I’d expect a lawsuit. I mean a summons to court on Christmas Eve. You can’t pretend nothing is happening, right?
“I was trying to have a good time with my family and someone shows up on your doorstep and delivers what you won’t take well. I live in reality, I don’t know where he lives. If I were in his place, I wouldn’t expect a greeting or a handshake.”
McIlroy became embroiled in Reed’s defamation case against the Golf Channel and the PGA Tour. Reed’s lawyer, Larry Klayman, asked McIlroy and Tiger Woods to testify about a players-only meeting convened at a PGA Tour event last August, after which PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan announced a review of this year’s schedule with heightened events from prize money of $20 million in funds.
Reed’s legal team was reached for comment. The 2018 Masters Champion has been playing in the same event as McIlroy since the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth four months ago. Reed took offense at McIlroy in Surrey, saying it would be “hard to take” to see the rebels at the DP World Tour’s flagship event.
“I feel like [Rory] making these types of comments is offensive,” Reed said in an interview this week. “Let’s be honest, me [played the DP World Tour] more consistently than some European guys on the PGA Tour so they shot other guys especially Billy and Rory who shot the LIV guys who said they shouldn’t be here – I did more for this tour than Billy has and played almost as much as Rory has for the past five years.
McIlroy used to be the protector of Reed – the duo involved in an extraordinary matchup at the 2016 Ryder Cup – but apparently the hostility has ended. McIlroy looked incredulous when asked if there was any chance of a reconciliation with the controversial Texan.
McIlroy also responded in one word when asked if he thought he should mend his broken relationship with fellow LIV player Sergio Garcia in the unlikely event that the Spaniard would make an appearance in September’s Ryder Cup. “He did not answer.
The 33-year-old has been a vocal opponent of LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman since the breakaway tour began last June. In November, McIlroy urged the Australian to leave LIV “so adults can come into the room” and negotiate.
A few weeks later, Atul Khosla, LIV COO, resigned and then earlier this week, it was announced that Majed Al Sooroour, LIV MD, had stepped back, partly to concentrate on his role as director of Newcastle United. This upheaval has been widely characterized as Norman gaining even more power. However, McIlroy disagrees.
“If the chief executive doesn’t have a leadership team, I don’t know how strong he is,” he said. “I mean, he can’t do it alone.” He has to rely on the team, as we all rely on teams. You know if you’re working alone [sic]it’s starting to get pretty hard.”