LIV Golf-PGA Tour rivalry could get more spicy after McIlroy-Reed showdown
Rory McIlroy knew very well who was chasing him down, and eventually caught him, at the Dubai Desert Classic Monday. Which is what made the 72nd hole more of an emotional grind.
Patrick Reed, the tee-tossing LIV Golfer, birdied the final hole to pull into a tie with McIlroy, the man who Reed's attorney subpoenaed on Christmas Eve. Rory, the top-ranked golfer in the world and LIV's biggest antagonist on the PGA Tour, needed a birdie to avoid a playoff against his nemesis.
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After a tee shot on 18 that nearly found the water, McIlroy recovered and hit his third shot to within 14 feet. He then drained one of the more satisfying putts of his career for the win.
"Mentally today was probably one of the toughest rounds I've ever had to play because it would be really easy to let your emotions get in the way," said McIlroy, who lives in Jupiter. "I just had to really concentrate on focusing on myself. Forget who was up there on the leaderboard, and I did that really, really well."
What led to this emotion?
Tuesday on the range at Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, Reed approached McIlroy for some friendly talk. Apparently, Reed was surprised McIlroy was not welcoming the first time they met since Rory found out he was being sued by Reed's attorney. As Reed placed his left hand on McIlroy's back, McIlroy turned away and folded his arms. While walking away, Reed pulled a tee from his pocket and tossed it in McIlroy's direction … a LIV tee at that.
Later, Reed called McIlroy "an immature little child."
"I sort of had to bottle everything up today, and then was finally able to let it all out on the 18th green," McIlroy said. "I had to work really hard to forget about who was up there and just try to focus on myself."
Only the golfing gods could have given us this finish.
Golf could be in for another entertaining, back-and-forth, rhetoric filled season with the rivalry between LIV and the PGA Tour not ready to cool. Even Phil Mickelson weighed in from afar this weekend with a sarcastic tweet about where Rory was playing.
"What a great -7 3rd round by @McIlroyRory in DUBAI to open up a 3 shot lead. See if he can finish it off. Watch live final round action from the Middle East on the golf channel."
Among players, Mickelson is the face of the league that is financed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.
The Dubai Desert Classic was a rare event that featured LIV and PGA Tour golfers. A bigger spotlight will shine the next time golfers from the two organizations play in the same tournament - the Masters.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Rory McIlroy-Patrick Reed feud heightens rivalry between LIV Golf-PGA Tour