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Patrick Reed shrugs off another PGA Tour rules controversy

Patrick Reed wins 2021 Farmers Insurance Open
Patrick Reed cruises to a 5-stroke victory Sunday at the Farmers Insurance Open as he dismissed a weekend rules controversy.

Reed takes disputed drop at Torrey Pines, leading CBS’ Nick Faldo to question move and Jim Nantz to say, ‘the optics are not great’

Patrick Reed found himself in the middle of another rules controversy over the weekend at the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open, and in the words of CBS announcer Jim Nantz, “the optics are not great.”

Leading by four shots during Saturday’s third round at Torrey Pines’ South Course, Reed hit his approach from a fairway bunker at the par-4 10th hole into deep rough short left of the green. Reed claimed that his ball had embedded and that he was entitled to a drop under Rule 16.3 (“Embedded Ball”). However, he picked up his ball before summoning PGA Tour rules official Brad Fabel. “They [the marshals] said it didn’t bounce,” Reed told Fabel as the official pulled up in a cart, “so I checked it and I believe it broke ground. But I want you to make the call.”

“What are you talking about?” Fabel asked.

“Embedded ball,” Reed said.

A CBS replay of the shot showed the ball bounce no more than knee-high upon landing in the rough and then settling forward a few feet.

“I’ve never seen a ball plug on the second bounce,” CBS analyst Nick Faldo said after seeing the replay.

Reed defended his move.

“The ball just disappeared,” Reed said after his round. “None of us saw it bounce,” he said, referring to playing competitors Robby Shelton and Will Gordon. “I looked at my group and said, ‘Guys, she [the nearby volunteer] didn't see it bounce it, either, so I'm going to mark this ball and see if it's embedded.’

“Once I marked it, the first thing I wanted to do was make sure I got the ball out of my hand, because you don't want to clean it or anything because you don't know if it's embedded yet.”

In an interview with CBS’ Nantz, Ken Tackett, who only moments earlier was introduced on the broadcast as the network’s rules analyst, gave Reed the benefit of the doubt.

“I thought Patrick did a good job in explaining his thought process.”

Nantz pressed Tackett about the video replay that showed the ball taking a short hop, leading to Reed’s claim of an embedded ball.

“He kind of got ahead of himself there [in marking the spot and picking up the ball before the arrival of a rules official],” Tackett said.

With the relief, Reed got his ball up and down from 48 yards, sinking a 14-foot putt to save par. However, he followed with bogeys on Nos. 11, 13, 14 and 16, signing for a 70 to finish the third round tied for the lead with Carlos Ortiz.

Reed would go on to win the tournament by five strokes.

Reed took to Twitter to defend himself, even comparing his situation to a drop that Rory McIlroy took in the third round.

Here is the full exchange, according to the PGA Tour’s Twitter account:

Reed is no stranger to rules controversies. He came under scrutiny at the 2019 Hero World Challenge, an unofficial PGA Tour event in the Bahamas, when he took two practice swings in a sandy waste area, brushing away sand from behind his ball and allowing for cleaner contact. Reed incurred a two-stroke penalty after video replay documented the violation of Rule 8.1a(4). Reed disputed the ruling, despite the video evidence.

At the next week’s Presidents Cup in Australia, he endured heckling from spectators, resulting in an altercation between Reed’s caddie, brother-in-law Kessler Karain, and a spectator. The PGA Tour suspended Karain for the Sunday singles matches.

Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee said Reed “cheated,” which prompted a cease-and-desist order being filed by Reed’s attorney.

Dating to Reed’s college days – first in an aborted stay at Georgia and later at Augusta State, where he helped lead the team to consecutive NCAA titles in 2010 and 2011 – controversy has followed Reed. Author Shane Ryan, in his book “Slaying the Tiger: A Year Inside the Ropes on the New PGA Tour,” detailed how Reed faced accusations of cheating and thievery from teammates. Reed denied the allegations, claiming that he was dismissed from Georgia’s team in 2009 because of underage drinking.

During his victory at the 2018 Masters, Reed faced questions about his estrangement from his family, who lived in Augusta, Ga., site of the tournament. They were barred by Reed from attending the Masters.

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