It was oh so very evident from the get-go last week in Dubai that sand-swiping, grass-compressing, tee-tossing, wrong-tree-identifying Patrick Reed was trying to get under the skin of Rory McIlroy, the world’s No. 1 and Defender Of The Faith for the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour.
Perhaps the DP World Tour needed to put something in the old local rules sheet that gets passed out to the players before a tournament and perhaps a special local rule would have been appropriate in Dubai — Rule 16: Hey Patrick Reed, no one wants to shake your hand!
Rory McIlroy didn’t, and if you polled most of the big names on the PGA Tour, they’d probably have the same mindset as Rory — no one wants anything to do with golf’s best villain and holder of a PhD in rules-bending — yes, LIV Defector Patrick Reed.
When Rory gave Reed the old Cold Irish Shoulder early last week, Reed tossed a tee in Rory’s direction. Really? Is that the best you’ve got, Reed?
Rory wanted no part of Reed. “I was down by my bag, and he came up to me, and I was busy working and sort of doing my practice, and I didn’t really feel like — I didn’t feel the need to acknowledge him,” McIlroy explained.
Of course, Reed has a need. Sort of like WWE champion Roman Raines, who demands of wrestling audiences: “Acknowledge me!!”
No, Rory had every right to NOT acknowledge Reed.
Back when Reed defected to LIV, you can bet no one thought to themselves — “Hey, we’re gonna miss that guy.” It was just the opposite and the old joke circulating in the golf world is that it wasn’t LIV that paid $50 million to Reed, it was the Tour paying him to leave.
But we digress, back to Dubai. Naturally Reed had to have the last word on “Tee-Gate” and gave us this: “He saw me, and he decided not to react. It’s unfortunate because we’ve always had a good relationship. But it’s one of those things, if you’re going to act like an immature little child, then you might as well be treated like one.”
Immature child? Reed just might be the poster boy if they decided to come up with an “immature child” poster.
So perhaps Rory found a little more motivation for the 72 holes that were completed despite monsoon rains earlier last week that basically pushed the Dubai Desert Classic to a Monday finish. Gave Rory some extra time to knock off the old inactivity rust and there was some. He opened nicely with 66 after a lackluster first nine holes. Round two was a bit of a struggle but on moving day, Rory moved away from the field with a sizzling 65.
Note to Reed — if this was a 54-hole event like the ones you LIV Defectors love so much, Rory would have won by three and beaten you by four.
But wait, there was more from Reed. During play on Saturday, Reed’s drive at the 17th hole parked itself in a palm tree. Reed swore up and down he identified his ball up in one of the trees and convinced the rules official. He took a one shot penalty, avoided going back to the tee and saved bogey. Later, video footage seemed to indicate that Reed wasn’t even looking up the right palm tree.
Reed played final round antagonist with a closing 65, putting all the heat on Rory. Imagine going head-to-head with Reed in a playoff? Not sure that was on Rory’s list to things to do.
But there would be no playoff.
Rory pulled off a great two-putt from 80-plus feet for birdie at 17. More drama at 18 where he dunked his second shot last year to lose by a shot then had some Deja Vue in the third round when he dunked one again, but still shot 65.
Rory’s drive at the 72nd hole barely avoided the water on the right side of the hole. His ball settled in the middle of the red hazard line. He was only 192 yards out but did the wise thing — he laid up. A conservative third left him 14 feet for the win. And with Reed staring at the television screen in the scorer’s room, Rory calmly rolled in the tough left-to-right breaker and with one stroke of his flat-stick, won the tournament and, in the process, drove a stake right through Reed’s cheating heart.
Rory tightened his grip on that No. 1 ranking and no doubt Reed went away mad.
Don’t go away mad, Patrick Reed.
Just go away.