The American golfer and McIlroy clashed ahead of this week’s DP World Tour event in Dubai when the Northern Irishman refused to acknowledge Reed’s greeting.
In response, the 32-year-old threw a tee at McIlroy, who later revealed that he had been subpoenaed by lawyers representing Reed, who joined the Saudi-backed breakaway LIV Golf Series in June of last year.
The 2018 Masters winner has now explained the tee-flicking incident, suggesting that McIlroy’s snub and behaviour had prompted him to respond.
“It was kind of a funny shot back,” Reed said. “[It is] funny how a small little flick has turned into basically me stabbing him and throwing a tee at him... He saw me and he decided not to react.
“It’s unfortunate but it is one of those things – if you’re going to act like an immature little child then you might as well be treated like one.”
McIlroy has emerged as a prominent critic of golfers who have defected to LIV Golf, acting as an unofficial spokesperson for the PGA Tour.
Fronted by Greg Norman, the controversial new series hosted eight tournaments last year and will expand to a 14-event LIV Golf League in 2023.
Reed was among a number of high-profile defectors from the PGA and DP World Tours.
The American has launched legal action against Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee after accusing the former golfer of defamation, with McIlroy among those called to give evidence.
Reed insists, however, that his clashes with McIlroy this week have been overblown.
“Honestly, what happened this week was really nothing but then it turned into the huge ‘teegate’ with assassination on both sides,” Reed added. “You really have to learn how to handle days when there may be a lot of drama and days that are normal.”
McIlroy and Reed are tied for the lead at six-under after the completion of the rain-disrupted opening rounds at the Dubai Desert Classic, with each registering a round of 66.