From The Inbox

In search of true spirit of the game

Reader assails Nick Faldo for inconsistent praise and criticism regarding PGA Tour players’ strategy and knowledge of rules

After this year's Farmers Insurance Open, Nick Faldo's comment – “I’ve never seen a ball plug on the second bounce” – is officially obsolete. According to PGA Tour rules officials, Faldo saw it twice in a span of just two days. One, he had a problem with; the other, not so much.

Aside from that, how many times have announcers extolled the virtues of using the rules to your advantage?

We watched and heard exactly that again on Sunday when Viktor Hovland sailed an approach shot into the barranca and spent the first couple of minutes of his penalty-drop process trying to locate a drop area that would render his next swing free from obstruction. If I remember correctly, Faldo (one of Patrick Reed's many critics) was congratulating Hovland for his strategy and knowledge of the rules, and rightly so.      

But on that same note (I'm certainly not accusing Hovland here), it's not beyond the realm of possibility that the change to knee-height drops allows players to aim for and hit a specific drop spot that ultimately will lead to their placing the ball, thereby resulting in a marginally better lie. 

Would that be considered within the “spirit of the game”? Should rules officials be accompanied by a psychic to every on-course ruling to determine intent? Should Miss Cleo be summoned from the grave? 

This isn't an attempt to defend Patrick Reed – golf fans already have decided that for themselves, one way or the other – but it's either OK to use the rules to your advantage or it isn't.   

Jim Westerman
Hanover Park, Ill.

CBS’ ‘character assassination’
I cannot recall a character assassination as malicious and fallacious as what I witnessed Sunday by the elitists on CBS: Jim Nantz, Nick Faldo, Dottie Pepper, Ian Baker-Finch and Frank Nobilo.

After Patrick Reed called an official for judgment and his procedure was totally approved for gaining relief from a plugged lie, these bozos all jumped on him, basically calling him a cheat and casted all kinds of vicious innuendos about Reed’s character (“Patrick Reed, golf’s No. 1 villain, strikes again on PGA Tour,” Feb. 1).

When Rory Mcllroy later performed a similar procedure, this fine cast coughed into their sleeves and said, essentially, Just move on. Nothing to see here.

It was a disgusting attack.

Gary Radford
Fayetteville, N.Y.

Reed ranks last in category of strokes gained morality
If I were part of Patrick Reed’s management team, I would have advised Reed never to make a ruling himself and always include the nearest PGA Tour rules official. But this advice would not work for Reed (“Patrick Reed, golf’s No. 1 villain, strikes again on PGA Tour,” Feb. 1).

As a cheater, he needs to take advantage when the opportunity arises.

Knowing much of Reed’s checkered past (and Gary Van Sickle’s story added a few new ones for me), I am thinking that Reed most likely pushed his ball further into the mud before lifting it out of the crater that he created. Is there definitive visual evidence of this? No. I just believe it because Reed is a cheater.

There is not a single other player on the PGA Tour whom I would ever think would do this – just Reed.

It’s too bad, because Reed has almost no weaknesses in his golf game. He is only weak of character.

David Fulton
Parsippany, N.J.

Let’s turn to Mrs. Beaupre for the unbiased verdict
I read Gary Van Sickle’s story about Patrick Reed and his history (“Patrick Reed, golf’s No. 1 villain, strikes again on PGA Tour,” Feb. 1). I've played golf for 65 years and understand the game well. My wife, who sometimes watches golf (if Phil Mickelson or Rory McIlroy is playing), has played some golf, but she has no history and knows little of Reed.

After watching multiple replays of both shots that resulted in drops by Reed and McIlroy, she had an interesting observation. McIlroy had the same thing happen that Reed did. He hit a shot that landed in the rough, took a bounce and then disappeared. He walked up and essentially said, Hey guys, my ball is embedded. His playing competitors essentially said, OK, take one club length no nearer the hole and drop the ball. No official was called. It was, OK, Rory, take a drop.

Reed asked the marshals, and they said the ball didn't bounce. He said, OK, I think the ball is embedded. He lifted the ball, yes, without an official – as did McIlroy. But then Reed called an official. The official said what he did was OK based on what the marshals said. And the ruling was confirmed more than once.

So, McIlroy did what Reed did but didn't call an official, and it's, OK, no issue. Reed is wrong; McIlroy is wrong.

Should McIlroy have called an official? This is from a woman who essentially knows nothing of Reed and actually favors McIlroy. She was just observing the situation.   

I tried to explain some of the history of Patrick Reed. She said history doesn't matter; it's the instant situation that matters. Why is one man innocent and the other guilty for essentially the same actions?

I'm not a Patrick Reed fan. I don't like his history, to be sure; too many questions. He always will be questioned in situations such as the one Saturday at Torrey Pines. He always will be walking on land mines and should govern himself accordingly. 

Bob Beaupre
Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Patrick Reed’s reputation clouds any potential benefit of doubt
Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed both had embedded-ball situations last week, and both were judged to have been properly handled by rules officials. Neither one allowed his ball and situation to be reviewed by fellow competitors or rules officials. No one believes that McIlroy did anything wrong, but many, if not most, believe that Reed cheated (“Patrick Reed, golf’s No. 1 villain, strikes again on PGA Tour,” Feb. 1).

It’s not hard to understand why, but a comparison might be helpful. 

Tony Soprano and the Dalai Lama are stopped by store security as they are exiting the store. Both have unpaid items in their pockets, and both claim they put them there to free up their hands while shopping and simply forgot to pay on the way out.

I don't know, but I give McIlroy and the Lama (big hitter, the Lama) the benefit of the doubt. Soprano and Reed? Not so much. 

Reputation: It proceeds you. 

Blaine Walker
St. Paul, Minn.

Too tough to call
It is impossible to tell whether Patrick Reed cheated Saturday at the Farmers Insurance Open (“Patrick Reed, golf’s No. 1 villain, strikes again on PGA Tour,” Feb. 1).

When he reached into the tall grass short left of the 10th green, he could have pushed the ball into the ground before simply lifting it, but that doesn’t mean he did.

I do think two things make many observers question his actions: lifting the ball before calling a rules official and asking the volunteer whether the ball bounced before even reaching the ball. The second action may well indicate his intention.

It seems to me that actually looking at the ball and determining whether it’s embedded would have been his first action, not asking whether it could be embedded. 

Clay Rouse
Florence, Miss.

Just take the drop and don’t ask
I guess the moral of the story for Saturday’s round at the Farmers Insurance Open is, if you have a question about your lie, just pick it up and drop it. No questions asked. However, if you call an official and get an official ruling and a free drop, you get crucified (“Patrick Reed, golf’s No. 1 villain, strikes again on PGA Tour,” Feb. 1).

Therefore, in the future, if you have a question about your lie, do not call an official; just take your drop, and no questions will be asked. 

By the way, my two favorite players on the PGA Tour are Rory and Patrick Reed. Both can play in my foursome any time. 

Ken Drake
Albany, Ore.

Reed deserves an apology
The Patrick Reed incident started with CBS announcers Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo and needs to end with a public apology to Reed (“Patrick Reed, golf’s No. 1 villain, strikes again on PGA Tour,” Feb. 1).

In their own words on national television, they showed the rules that Reed followed to the letter of the law. Then, they continued to defame his character throughout the rest of the round. To prove my point, they showed a second incident committed by Rory McIlroy that was very similar, only worse. McIlroy didn’t even ask for a rules official. We saw his ball bounce in the rough, just as Reed’s did. Yet McIlroy decided on his own that the ball was embedded, so he announced to his fellow competitors and moved on.

What I would do if I were Reed is hire myself a really good lawyer and sue CBS and its announcers for defamation of character. I wouldn’t stop until I was deep in their pockets and I got that public apology.

Mel Howsmon
Vancouver, Wash.

Hindsight and TV replay: An unbeatable pairing
Hindsight is 20/20, but I wonder whether PGA rules official Brad Fabel is thinking, why didn’t he just get on his walkie-talkie and talk to someone at “headquarters” to check CBS’ TV replay and see whether they had a shot of Patrick Reed’s ball landing.

As it turns out, they did, and already were showing it ad nauseam. CBS then spent a 15-minute segment the next day talking about it again.

A simple check of the replay would have shown that the ball did, indeed, bounce, at least a foot high.

It’s virtually impossible for a ball to plug after bouncing.

Reed knew this was the central part of the equation, as he had asked the nearby volunteer right away upon arriving, “Did you see it bounce?”

It seemed that the entire ruling was rushed. Fabel could have gotten the information required within a matter of minutes.

Did the ball bounce? Yes, so play it as it lies. Does TV show a non-bounce? Then proceed that way.

I do agree that Reed is being singled out unfairly as compared with Rory McIlroy’s identical situation, but then again, Reed has put himself into that position with his boorish behavior in the past.

Jon Lucas
Little Rock, Ark.

Bad move
Again, Patrick Reed finds himself in quite a pickle (“Patrick Reed, golf’s No. 1 villain, strikes again on PGA Tour,” Feb. 1). He did everything right, except for moving the ball to a different place and putting his finger down in the hole before PGA Tour rules official Brad Fabel arrived.

I know guys who don't know the difference between red and yellow stakes but know that they can't move the ball and disturb the ground before an official or playing competitor gets there.

Optics, indeed. 

Mike Nixon
Nashville, Tenn.
(Nixon, who played the PGA Tour in the late 1970s and early 1980s, is the director of golf operations for the Tennessee Golf Trail.)

OK, but what do PGA Tour stars have to say about Reed?
Xander Schauffele and Lanto Griffin publicly called out Patrick Reed (“PGA Tour players sound off on Patrick Reed, and they’re not happy,” Feb. 2).

If what Reed did was so egregious, let's hear from players who, over time have earned our respect: Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Steve Stricker, Davis Love III.

I know I'd care more about what they say than one-hit-wonder Lanto Griffin.

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

‘Beaten to death’ … but here’s 1 more smack
The Patrick Reed issue has been beaten to death. If Xander Schauffele wants to wait for a rules official, so be it, but that is not the rule (“PGA Tour players sound off on Patrick Reed, and they’re not happy,” Feb. 2).

I did not hear Lanto Griffin say he watched the video, but either way, who cares what he thinks? He also used the word “we.” Wonder who else he is talking about?

Finally, CBS and Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee and Rich Lerner should be ashamed of themselves. They questioned a USGA ruling, a PGA Tour ruling and continued to bash Reed. They owe him an apology. Reed won’t hold his breath.

Though it would slow play, the PGA Tour easily can change the rule to require an official before anyone declares anything or touches his golf ball.

Gary Kirkner
Kiawah Island, S.C.

Hawk & Purk and Dowling take big strides together
I’d like to commend the “Hawk & Purk” podcast by two Morning Read contributors, John Hawkins and Mike Purkey. I listen to every episode on my morning walks, without fail. 

Some golf podcasts, unrelated to Morning Read, are rife with meaningless banter. The Hawk & Purk podcast gives you thoughtful, wall-to-wall analysis and commentary based on their decades of experience. They also have great guests from around the world of golf. 

Hawkins and Purkey give my friends and me plenty to debate at the 19th hole. Keep up the great work, gentlemen.  

Tim Dowling
Reston, Va.

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