|-10 P Reed (US), C Ortiz (Mex); -8 S Burns (US), L Griffin (US), V Hovland (Nor), J Rahm (Spa), A Scott (Aus)|
|Selected others: -7 R McIlroy (NI); -6 T Finau (US), X Schauffele (US); -2 T Lewis (Eng), F Molinari (Ita)|
American Patrick Reed benefitted from a controversial free drop to share the lead after the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open in California.
Reed’s second shot from a bunker on the 10th found the rough. Believing the ball was “embedded into the turf”, he moved it before calling an official.
The official deemed it had been embedded, allowing Reed a drop. He then chipped on and holed the putt for par.
But TV replays showed the ball bounced once before settling into the rough.
“The rules official said we did it absolutely perfectly,” said 30-year-old Reed, the 2018 Masters champion.
“When we’re out there, we can’t see everything and when that happens, you have to go by what the volunteers say, with what the rules officials say.
“When all comes to push and shove, we felt like we did the right thing.”
Lift and place rules were under operation during the round after heavy overnight rainfall.
Speaking on television commentary while the incident played out, PGA Tour rules official Ken Tackett was asked whether he would advise players to mark the ball and call over an official rather than move it first.
“That’s always the best practice,” he said. “Leave the ball and wait for the official, just because it gets rid of any questions about where the ball was.”
Speaking later, Tackett added: “Virtual certainty is a standard we use often.
“As Patrick stated, he went through the process. Everyone felt the ball disappeared. The volunteers said it didn’t bounce. He checked to see if it was embedded. He called an official who confirmed it. He did all the things we ask of a player.”
When pushed about the possibility the ball could not have embedded because the ball bounced forward, Tackett said: “For everybody playing at home, it’s the same rule, you’re not afforded the video review and you base your decision off the witnesses there.
“I think Patrick did a good job explaining his thought process and that resulted in no penalty and we’re fine with the outcome of the situation.”
In December 2019 Reed was given a two-stroke penalty at the Hero World Challenge for improving the lie of his ball when he moved sand in a bunker with his practice swing.
Reed is 10 under at Torrey Pines, along with Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz, having picked up five shots before the turn.
After the drop incident, he bogeyed four of his next eight holes.
Reed and Ortiz lead by two shots from a group of five that includes Spain’s Jon Rahm and Australian Adam Scott, while Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is on seven under.
The Northern Irishman had three birdies and a single bogey in his two-under round.