Patrick Reed was embroiled in yet another controversy at the Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour over the weekend.
The American, 30, does not boast golf’s best reputation when it comes to playing by the rules following his behaviour at the 2019 Hero Challenge.
Reed angered fans by appearing to sweep sand from behind his ball during practice shots to improve his lie at that tournament – and he found himself at the centre of more ‘cheat’ accusations on Saturday night.
The former Masters champion was leading the event at Torrey Pines when he took relief following a wild shot on the 10th hole, claiming his ball was embedded in the rough.
However, video replays showed the ball had bounced upon landing, making it virtually impossible for the ball to be embedded.
Reed’s playing partners, Will Gordon and Robby Shelton, did not see the ball bounce, nor did their caddies or a tournament marshal nearby.
But rather than waiting for a rules official to arrive, Reed marked his ball and took a free drop in shorter grass.
When Brad Fabel, the senior rules official, arrived on the scene he identified a ‘lip’ in the ground, which was enough to convince him that Reed’s ball had been embedded, so the golfer’s free drop was allowed and he made par.
Many fans have pointed out that even if Reed believed the ball didn’t bounce, it should’ve become clear the ball was not in its original pitch mark when he picked it up.
Fabel was not able to judge the actual lie because Reed had already picked his ball up – and the official was going off the golfer’s claim that the ball did not bounce, when replays prove otherwise.
“OK, that’s the official line because as you can imagine the rest of the world is screaming at that one,” said Sir Nick Faldo, the expert analyst on the US broadcast.
He added: “I’ve never seen a ball plug on the second bounce.”
“The optics are not good,” said commentator Jim Nantz.
Nonetheless, the PGA Tour has defended the world no.11, insisting his behaviour was ‘textbook’.
Rules official John Mutch said Reed acted within the rules after being told that his ball did not bounce.
Mutch said: “He did nothing wrong. He marked it, lifted it and called for a ruling.”
And Reed himself has come out firing, using McIlrory’s behaviour at the same tournament to defend himself.
Reed tweeted: “RORY MCILROY DID THE SAME THING TODAY ON HOLE 18! AND DIDN’T EVEN CALL A RULES OFFICIAL OVER TO DEEM THE BALL EMBEDDED. END OF STORY.”