Patrick Reed said he unintentionally improved his lie from a waste bunker during the Hero World Challenge last month, but the fallout from that rules violation has continued into 2020.
Reed was penalized two strokes for improving his lie at the unofficial Tiger Woods-hosted tournament in the Bahamas, which was assessed after Reed brushed away sand behind his ball with two different backswings. PGA Tour rules official Slugger White met with Reed after the round to review the penalty.
“After seeing the video, it’s a two-stroke penalty, I accept that,” Reed said afterwards, but also added, “I think with a different camera angle they would have realized that … it was not improving the lie because it was far enough away from the golf ball.”
White told reporters that Reed “could not have been more of a gentleman.” He continued: “He was unbelievable. He said — he had a different look at it. The angle that we had was behind and he’s looking from on top, so he may not have — I don’t know if he could have seen it as clearly as we did, but he could not have been a better gentleman.”
Others weren’t as complimentary.
Australian Cameron Smith said “I don’t have sympathy for anybody that cheats,” and fans at the following week’s Presidents Cup didn’t hold back either. It escalated during the week that at one point Reed’s caddie, Kessler Karain, got into an altercation with a fan and was banned from Sunday singles.
One voice we hadn’t heard from yet had been PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, but that changed when he spoke to a small group of reporters at Kapalua over the weekend. One of the questions he was asked was about Reed.
“Golf is a game of honor and integrity, and you’ve heard from Patrick,” Monahan said. “I’ve had an opportunity to talk to Patrick at length, and I believe Patrick when he says that [he] did not intentionally improve [his] lie. And so you go back to that moment, and the conversation that he had with Slugger [White], and the fact that a violation was applied and he agreed to it and they signed his card and he moved on. To me that was the end of the matter.”
But this ongoing Reed saga doesn’t seem to be ending soon. At the Sentry Tournament of Champions on Sunday, Reed was playing the third hole of a playoff versus Justin Thomas when he lined up an eight-footer for birdie. As Reed’s ball rolled toward the cup, a fan screamed, “Cheater!” that was caught on the broadcast. (Reed missed the putt and lost the playoff.) This came just two days after Reed was involved in another rules situation in Kapalua. Despite the situation never amounting to anything (a volunteer accidentally moved Reed’s ball), it led to golf analyst Paul Azinger pointing out the extra scrutiny Reed is under.
“It’s pretty important for Patrick Reed to get it right at this point in his career, and he’s going to have to get it right for a long time to come,” he said. “We’re going to watch him like a hawk with the cameras.”
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