Patrick Reed Brushes Aside Critics to Have Last Laugh
IT IS fair to say that Patrick Reed is not the most popular player on the PGA Tour. Controversy has dogged him throughout his career, and it just refuses to go away.
He was accused of stealing from college teammates - a charge he has consistently denied. But he has also been accused of cheating on more than one occasion and, as anybody who has ever played golf will tell you, cheating on a golf course is as bad as it gets.
England’s Simon Dyson was suspended, Scotsman David Robertson was banned for life and even Colin Montgomerie struggled to clear his name after being accused of improving his lie beside a bunker after a rain delay.
Reed was penalised two shots in December after clearly improving his lie during the Hero World Challenge, later claiming that he wasn’t aware he had done so. TV viewers found that hard to believe - and that includes your correspondent.
If Reed thought that it was going to go away, he received a pretty painful wake-up call when Brooks Koepka chose to address the subject yet again during the WGC Mexico Championship.
“Yeah, I don’t know what he was doing, building sandcastles in the sand,” Koepka said. “You know where your club is. I took three months off [through injury] and I can promise you I know if I touch sand. If you look at the video, obviously he grazes the sand twice and then he still chops down on it.”
To his credit, Reed refused to back away. He said: “I’ve said what I have to say about what happened in the Bahamas, and at the end of the day, all I’m trying to do is go out and play good golf."
Analyst Peter Kostis also waded into the debate, claiming he had witnessed Reed breaking the rule by improving his lie on several occasions.
“I’ve seen Patrick Reed improve his lie, up close and personal, four times now," Kostis said. "He put four or five clubs behind the ball, kind of faking whether he’s going to hit this shot or that shot or whatever. By the time he was done, he hit a frickin’ 3-wood out of there. When I saw it, it was a sand-wedge lay-up originally.”
Kostis was clearly referring to an incident at the Barclays in 2016 and video footage supports him. Reed went on to win the tournament.
You might well wonder why it has taken Kostis more than three years to make his views public. He says that the broadcaster CBS warned him that his job was to report on the golf he was watching and made it clear to him that he was not to become the story.
“We could never call a penalty on a player, but we could comment if a penalty was called on a player,” Kostis said. “That’s the difference. I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t be the story.”
No matter what you think of Reed, and I have to say that I would most definitely want him on my side in any team match, it is clear that the more the world turns on him, the better he seems to play. He was barracked endlessly by a partisan Australian crowd during the Presidents Cup, which was played shortly after the incident at the Hero World Challenge. Did it put him off? It did not.
And did Koepka’s comments put him off his stroke in Mexico? Hardly. He only went and won the tournament, holding off the likes of Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas in the process. And Paul McGinley was effusive in his praise of the way that Reed plays the game, saying he looks more natural over the ball than almost any other player on Tour.
You suspect that Reed will be unconcerned about what Kostis has had to say but you would just love to be a fly on a wall the next time that Reed and Koepka share the changing room together. And it seems highly unlikely that, should they both make Steve Stricker’s Ryder Cup team later this year, that we will see them playing together in foursomes or fourballs.
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