News & Opinion

PGA Tour players sound off on Patrick Reed, and they’re not happy

Patrick Reed final round of 2021 Farmers Insurance Open
Patrick Reed plays from a bunker during the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego. Reed won by 5 strokes but not without controversy after a drop for an embedded ball.

2 players grumble about latest rules incident involving Patrick Reed as recreational golfers take sides in Morning Read’s ‘forum’

PGA Tour players rarely speak out publicly regarding questionable conduct from a fellow competitor.

That gentlemen’s agreement has been set aside for Patrick Reed.

When Reed won the Farmers Insurance Open on Sunday after taking a drop for an embedded ball a day earlier, few of his competitors were willing to criticize him publicly. Xander Schauffele had no such reservations while acknowledging the grumbling in the locker room.

“I would not put myself and create a situation like that,” Schauffele said late Sunday after he tied for second, five strokes behind Reed. “I wouldn’t. If my ball’s embedded, I usually will wait and call someone and kind of wait until everyone’s on the same page, wait to look at video. So, I try to avoid situations like that, just for that reason.

“I would wait for an official," said Schauffele, a four-time winner who is ranked No. 6 in the world. "You can put a tee in the ground and check your ball. I mean, he did everything by the book according to the official, and everyone stood by there. Obviously, the talk amongst the boys isn’t great, I guess, but he’s protected by the Tour, and that’s all that matters, I guess.”

Lanto Griffin spoke in stronger terms, noting after seeing video of the incident that it’s a PGA Tour player’s responsibility to err on the side of caution.

“Golf's a game of sportsmanship, and it's tough to put us in the spot to call him out because we weren't there,” said Griffin, who tied for seventh at Torrey Pines. “But at the end of the day, I think 99 percent of the golfers out here, if it's in question one way or the other, they're going to go the other way, not taking a drop.

"So, it's tough to see. It's sad, kind of pisses us off, but it's the way it is. Hopefully, something changes.”

Morning Read’s subscribers took to their keyboards Monday to sound off regarding Reed (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Feb. 2). Some backed him, some blamed him and a few called out the media for stirring up controversy.

To recap: Reed had driven into a fairway bunker at the par-4 10th hole at Torrey Pines’ South Course in Saturday’s third round. He hit his second shot short left of the green, into rough, but did not see the ball land.

Upon arriving at his ball, he asked whether any nearby volunteers had seen the ball land. Told that they hadn’t, and assured by playing competitors Robby Shelton and Will Gordon and their caddies that they hadn’t see the ball land, Reed marked his ball and lifted it from the ground, setting the second-guessing into motion. Here is the entire exchange, courtesy of the PGA Tour’s Twitter account:

Citing Rule 16.3 (“Embedded Ball”), and with an OK from PGA Tour rules official Brad Fabel, who is a former PGA Tour player, Reed took a drop, saved par and went on to post a runaway five-stroke victory the next day.

A CBS video replay of the shot showed the ball bounce no more than knee-high upon landing and then settle a few feet in front of where it struck ground.

“I’ve never seen a ball plug on the second bounce,” CBS analyst Nick Faldo said after seeing the replay. His colleague Jim Nantz added: “The optics are not great.”

Reed insisted that he did “the right thing” in executing the drop. The PGA Tour later backed Reed and Rory McIlroy, who dropped after a similar embedded-ball situation on another hole that day. “The protocols and everything I went through was the right thing,” Reed said. “I did everything I was supposed to do, and that was confirmed by the rules officials.”

Reed 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.

Reed was entered in this week’s European Tour event, the Saudi International, where he was scheduled to meet with the media on Wednesday afternoon.

For readers who might be looking for an omen regarding Reed and Torrey Pines, consider this: The last time that the U.S. Open was held at Torrey Pines, in 2008, the winner of the regular-season Tour event, known then as the Buick Invitational, also won the Open that summer. Yes, it was another guy known for wearing red on Sunday: Tiger Woods.

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