Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed both seem determined to face-off at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic after both produced flying finishes to their first rounds at Emirates Golf Club.
Long delays due to unusual heavy rain in Dubai meant that most of the field had to return on Friday morning to complete their first rounds, and when they did it was the main protagonists of the pre-tournament drama who made their moves.
Reed stuck in a 15-foot putt for an eagle on 18 to move to six under for the tournament, while McIlroy went even better to finish birdie-eagle-birdie in a lively 45 minutes he spent completing his round.
McIlroy needed just seven shots on Friday to set the golfing world on fire at the mouth-watering prospect of the Northern Irishman and his new nemesis Reed possibly being paired together at the weekend.
A pretty wild 45 minutes 🤯Rory finishes his opening round birdie-eagle-birdie to take the lead.#HeroDDC | #RolexSeries pic.twitter.com/xSKIa2sifLJanuary 27, 2023
There’s still a long way to, but after the now infamous “teegate” affair when Reed threw a tee peg at McIlroy after being blanked by him on the driving range, everyone in golf, and the wider sporting world, wants the two to go head-to-head in Dubai.
Reed called world number one McIlroy an “immature little child” for ignoring him, while McIlroy questioned the American’s grasp on reality for expecting a handshake after being served with a subpoena on Christmas Eve.
The two already had a history after a magical Ryder Cup showdown and a head-to-head at the Masters, but Reed’s defection to LIV Golf and subsequent legal proceedings against the PGA Tour saw the tension build up even more.
A pre-tournament meeting gone sour went viral and now all eyes will be on these two men whenever they’re in the same tournament.
Coming at the very same event as that infamous tee hurl though would be tremendous viewing for all concerned and everyone will be monitoring the second round scores closely to see if the two can remain at the top of the standings.
It would be box office viewing if Reed and McIlroy would be placed in the same group – everyone would be watching for the pre-round handshake that’s for sure!
Neither man mentioned the other in their immediate post-round interviews, and neither seemed to acknowledge the other when in close proximity on the practice green, with McIlroy just very pleased with his round as he felt rusty in his opening round of the year.
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