Patrick Reed points to his final-round face-off with Rory McIlroy at last month’s Hero Dubai Desert Classic as evidence that the current divide in professional golf between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour/DP World Tour can heal sooner rather than later.

Reed nearly chased down McIlroy in a weather-delayed Monday finish, falling one shot short when the Northern Irishman birdied the 18th hole. The pair had squared off on the course previously, notably in a memorable Sunday singles match at the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National and the final round at the 2018 Masters, won by Reed. But their latest duel seemed to have some extra spice given the two camps they now occupy.

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Reed, however, didn’t see it that way. He insists it was an amicable showdown against one of his favourite rivals, even with the lack of pleasantries exchanged between the two early in the week that grabbed so many headlines.

“It was great battling with Rory,” Reed told Golf Digest on Thursday ahead of LIV Golf’s season-opening event at Mayakoba Resort, where he arrives coming off the runner-up in Dubai and a T-25 at the Asian Tour’s Saudi International. “The thing about Dubai is it got blown out proportion, as if it was something horrible between two players when him and I were staying at the same hotel, and both times we saw each other [we said] ‘Hi, how you doing?’ It was normal. Was there probably some gamesmanship? And probably some stuff going on because of a bunch of other stuff? Is there probably some gamesmanship?

“I’ve always had full respect for Rory. I’ve always loved the battles I’ve had against him. I’ve just watched the [2016] Ryder Cup highlights [recently] … they are insane. Same thing at Augusta [during Reed’s 2018 Masters victory] when I was playing with him on the Sunday … there’s nothing better you want as a player trying to win your first major than it being against Rory McIlroy. He was also going for his career grand slam.”