Patrick Reed downplays tee flick incident with Rory McIlroy: "It was NORMAL!"

LIV Golf League player Patrick Reed offered different thoughts about Rory McIlroy after Sergio Garcia described the Northern Irishman as 'immature'.

Ben Smith's picture
Fri, 24 Feb 2023
Patrick Reed downplays tee flick incident with Rory McIlroy: "It was NORMAL!"

LIV Golf League player Patrick Reed says his memorable tee flick involving Rory McIlroy at the Dubai Desert Classic was painted as if "it was something horrible" between two players as he predicted things will cool down between the warring tours in 2023. 

Reed almost chased down McIlroy, 33, in the first Rolex Series event of the year on the DP World Tour. 

In the end, McIlroy was victorious by one stroke thanks to making a birdie at the 72nd hole. 

Related: Sergio Garcia slams 'immature' McIlroy

But much of that week's coverage involved reaction from Reed, 32, flicking a LIV-branded 4 Aces GC towards McIlroy. 

McIlroy later said he deliberately ignored Reed, but only because he was served a legal summons on Christmas eve from Reed's lawyer. 

For his part, Reed said the subpoena had absolutely nothing to do with him. 

The American was also involved in another rules debate - this time involving a pair of binoculars

That, too, was blown out of proportion according to Reed who was speaking to Golf Digest's Evin Priest on the eve of the second LIV Golf campaign. 

He told the publication:

"It was great battling with Rory. The thing about Dubai is it got blown out proportion, as if it was something horrible between two players when him and I were staying at the same hotel, and both times we saw each other [we said] 'Hi, how you doing?' 
"It was normal. Was there probably some gamesmanship? And probably some stuff going on because of a bunch of other stuff? Is there probably some gamesmanship?
"I've always had full respect for Rory. I've always loved the battles I've had against him. I've just watched the [2016] Ryder Cup highlights [recently] … they are insane.
"Same thing at Augusta [during Reed’s 2018 Masters victory] when I was playing with him on the Sunday … there's nothing better you want as a player trying to win your first major than it being against Rory McIlroy.
"He was also going for his career grand slam."

A ruling is expected soon in the DP World Tour v LIV Golf hearing.

A retired high court judge will determine whether the European-based circuit can effectively fine and suspend those for playing in LIV events. 

The decision also has dramatic implications for Ryder Cup qualifying.

Some critics have suggested that privately DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley will want to lose this key battle, given it surely brought more attention to their events. 

Phil Mickelson, after taking a jab at McIlroy for playing in the Middle East, also believed the tournament was better because of the LIV dynamic.  

Reed continued: 

"I think you're going start seeing over [the next] year, hopefully, everything's able to kind of calm down and allow that to happen more often. 
"Not just on the European Tour but who knows, maybe later on … you have more of these battles more frequently."

A number of players have already teased what the Masters atmosphere will be like, particularly at the past champions' dinner. 

Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and Bubba Watson have all offered their thoughts. 

It has now been confirmed LIV Golf League players will be eligible for all the majors in 2023. 

Related: Pieters explains his $10m LIV switch

Reed's thoughts?

"The thing is, the champions dinner has nothing to do with myself or any other person in that room except for Scottie Scheffler. That's his dinner.
"My experiences during those dinners have been amazing. We're always talking about past experiences at Augusta, how the other guys have won the [Masters], what obstacles they had to overcome, the shots they pulled off in their experiences.
"Knowing the guys out here on LIV and also some of the older guys … that night and that dinner is all about Scottie and has nothing to do with where someone's playing, what happened a week ago, what’s happening going forward.
"It's all about that event [the Masters]. It is literally Scottie's night and that's how it's always going to be."

Next page: Dustin Johnson burns former LIV team-mate