Golf-Reed not expecting LIV-PGA Tour animosity at Augusta

FILE PHOTO: Oct 29, 2022; Miami, Florida, USA; Patrick Reed tees off the second hole during the second round of the season finale of the LIV Golf series at Trump National Doral. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - The feud between the PGA Tour and breakaway LIV Golf Series has left the sport in turmoil but Masters champions Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson do not expect any animosity when players from both circuits tee it up at Augusta National next week.

LIV, which is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, and the PGA Tour have been in litigation since several LIV players filed federal antitrust lawsuits last August.

While they remain banned from PGA Tour events, Augusta will open its doors to LIV's biggest names from April 6-9. Reed and Watson are among six golfers who qualified with a lifetime exemption as past winners of the tournament.

"The storylines are going to be obviously LIV versus PGA Tour and all that," 2018 champion Reed said on Wednesday.

"But really, at the majors, top players in the world are going and playing against each other no matter where they come from. It doesn't matter what Tour they're on. For us, at least for myself, it's going to be business as usual.

"Would I like to have LIV be up at the top? Of course."

Watson, who won the Masters in 2012 and 2014, said criticism from Rory McIlroy, one of the staunchest opponents of the LIV Series, was not surprising.

"He's protecting his business, protecting his entity, which is fine," Watson said. "I'm going to be honest, it's only awkward in the media. I've talked to people that are going to be there. Some guys have already asked me to play practice rounds."

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka, who is eligible for the Masters thanks to his 2019 PGA Championship victory, said he was with PGA Tour players McIlroy and Justin Thomas in Florida on Tuesday.

"We see each other quite a bit," he added. "I also don't think that means anything personal with any of us ... No one is angry at anybody from what I've seen."

(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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