Rory McIlroy explains Reed snub, in no mood for reconciliation in Dubai

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As one of the LIV Golf breakaway league’s most outspoken critics, Rory McIlroy felt mentally exhausted late last year and decided to put away his clubs for a few weeks.

“It’s been fun,” said top-ranking McIlroy, “trying to take some time off and get away from the game of golf.”

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Now he’s back and seems as fiery as ever.

McIlroy was on the driving range at the Dubai Desert Classic on Tuesday when he was approached by Patrick Reed, one of the high-profile players who had joined the exodus to the Saudi-backed series that changed the face of golf in 2022.

McIlroy said he was busy practicing and didn’t feel the need to acknowledge Reed.

Reed later called McIlroy an “immature little kid” for disapproving.

“Patrick came over to say hello and I didn’t want him to,” McIlroy said on Wednesday.

McIlroy was asked about reports that the American threw a tee at him. The four-time big winner said he had not seen or felt anything.

“But apparently that’s what happened,” McIlroy said. “And if the tables were turned and I threw that tee at him, I would expect him to sue.”

That was a joke from McIlroy, who said he got a subpoena from Reed’s lawyers on Christmas Eve. He did not provide details about the subpoena, but Reed filed another libel lawsuit last month.

It is clear that McIlroy is not in the mood for reconciliation in Dubai.

“Of course, if you’re trying to have a good time with my family and someone shows up on your doorstep and delivers, you’re not going to take that well,” McIlroy said.

“So again, I live in reality. I don’t know where he lives. If I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t expect a hello or a handshake.”

The Associated Press reached out to Reed about McIlroy’s comments about their interaction Tuesday.

McIlroy was later asked if it would be beneficial to “repair your relationship” with another LIV rebel, Sergio Garcia, if it would help the European cause ahead of this year’s Ryder Cup.

“No,” was the Northern Irishman’s blunt reply.

The toll McIlroy took for effectively being an anti-LIV spokesman did not stop him from returning to the top of the world rankings late last year.

His last competitive tournament was the World Tour Championship, which also took place in Dubai in November.

McIlroy said the break gave him a chance to “recharge and reset and start 2023 with renewed optimism,” and he’s back in the Middle East with some unfinished business.

In last year’s Dubai Desert Classic, McIlroy had part of the lead after 71 holes, but bogeyed the par-5 No. 18 on Sunday after his second shot into the water off the green. He finished one shot behind Viktor Hovland and Richard Bland, with Hovland eventually winning a play-off.

“It wasn’t quite the way I wanted to finish it,” said McIlroy. “But you know, I kept going from that week and played really well and had a great year.”

McIlroy is a two-time winner of the event – in 2009, which was his first title as a pro at age 19, and in 2015 – and loves coming to this part of the world.

“I’ve been coming here for a long time, 17 years,” he said. “I feel comfortable here. I like starting my year here. I have a lot of friends. I have called this place my home for four years.”

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