Rory McIlroy said he had not seen Patrick Reed throw a tee at him near the range at Emirates Golf Club on Tuesday, but acknowledged, had the roles been reversed, “I’d be expecting a lawsuit”.
Reed had reportedly attempted to greet the Northern Irishman two days ahead of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.
When he was snubbed, the American reportedly walked off, while throwing a tee in McIlroy’s direction in disgust.
It was the latest incident in what has been termed golf’s “civil war” which has involved some of the world’s leading players and those who have joined the LIV Golf tour.
McIlroy said he had rebuffed Reed’s approach as he was focused on practicing, but suggested the prevailing climate meant he would be disinclined to greet him anyway.
“I didn't see it,” the World No 1 said when asked about Reed throwing a tee-peg at him. “I was down by my bag and he came up to me. I was busy working and doing my practice, and I didn't feel the need to acknowledge him.
“So I didn't see a tee coming my direction at all, but apparently that's what happened. And if roles were reversed and I'd have of thrown that tee at him, I'd be expecting a lawsuit.”
The divisions within golf that started with the arrival of the new tour, LIV Golf, last year have deepened away from the course in the way of a number of lawsuits.
Players such as Reed, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood, and Ian Poulter are awaiting an arbitration hearing next month to see if they can continue to play DP World Tour events, as well as their LIV Tour commitments.
In the course of the past six months, Reed has also reportedly started legal action against McIlroy and Tiger Woods, as well as a defamation case golf commentator Brandel Chamblee.
"I was subpoenaed by his lawyer on Christmas Eve," McIlroy, the two-time Classic winner, said. "So, of course, [I was] trying to have a nice time with my family and if someone shows up on your doorstep and delivers that, you're not going to take that well.
"I'm living in reality, I don't know where he's living. If I were in his shoes, I wouldn't expect a hello or a handshake."
McIlroy and Reed will tee it up at the same time in Round 1 at the Classic on Thursday – albeit on separate sides of the Majlis Course.
McIlroy is drawn in a three-ball with Ryan Fox and Tommy Fleetwood, starting at the 10th tee. Simultaneously, Reed will be at the first, alongside Gavin Green and Scott Jamieson.