I had every intention of writing about Patrick Reed this week, but the narrative has changed just a bit. I planned on discussing his confidential prototype irons that he was playing at the Hero World Challenge; and I still will, but I feel there is a larger elephant in the room. As if Reed’s reputation wasn’t tainted enough, he faced a Sunday evening and Monday morning backlash that would force the mentally toughest human to crawl under a rock and hide. Nobody wants to be labeled a cheater, especially a professional when it comes to their craft. Especially when that craft is respect and integrity driven. Especially when the player in question is Patrick Reed and you can count the number of his fans on your two hands, and the number of family members he talks to on even less fingers. I have always liked Patrick Reed and stuck up for him in arguments. I like that he’s “Captain America” in our team events. I liked when he “shhhhh’d” the gallery in Whales. I loved when he wagged his finger at Rory after dropping a bomb at Hazeltine. He’s our Ian Poulter, who is easy to hate when you’re rooting against him. I also had no issue with him saying he felt like he was one of the top-5 players in the world a few years ago after winning his first WGC event at Doral. He’s won 6 times and a Masters since then. To compete at the highest level you have to have self-belief, or you will get eaten alive. He didn’t say it arrogantly. Just confidently. He put the work in and was starting to get the results he expected. Simple enough.
But it’s tough to stick up for him this time. Hard to give him the benefit of the doubt. Would it be easier if it wasn’t Reed who committed the rules infraction on Saturday? 100%. He already has the rep of being a cheater in college by former teammates. He is known for being a pain in the you-know-what by his President’s and Ryder Cup mates as well. And worst of all he is known for being estranged from his family. Who deserves the blame there, I don’t know. But still heartbreaking to hear. During the 3rd round of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, Reed addressed a shot in a waste bunker on hole #11. By the rules of golf, you are permitted to ground your club in any area defined as a “waste area.” So even though it looks like a sand trap, waste areas are unraked so you are allowed to ground your club behind the ball before taking your swing. But what Reed did was interesting and kind of unorthodox. Close-up slo-mo footage shows him addressing the ball, grounding the club behind it, and wiping away sand in his practice takeaway. He then rehearsed a follow-thru next to the ball. He did this twice, both times pushing away sand from behind the ball along the same path that his swing would take. 9 times out of 10, players take their practice swings next to the ball or a few steps behind it; Patrick Reed included. But this particular time he addressed the ball and took 2 practice motions. Now obviously the thought here, or speculation, is that he was improving his lie and strike path by removing sand from behind his ball. Grounding your club in the waste bunker: nice list. Pushing away sand and improving your lie: naughty list.
Long-time PGA rules official Slugger White approached Patrick after his round before he signed his scorecard. “We showed him the video and he accepted the penalty like a gentleman,” said White. Reed stated he understood why he was assessed the 2-stroke penalty but denied any intent to improve his lie. As it ended up, the penalty ultimately cost Reed a chance to win the event or get into a playoff. He finished exactly 2 shots behind winner Henrik Stenson.
Being that playing in the President’s Cup on foreign soil will already be a hostile environment, I would not be surprised if the International galleries give Reed the business this week. I even expect him to be booed. That could prove costly however, because a lot like Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed plays his best and is at his most dangerous when he has a little chip on his shoulder or has something to prove. Only he knows the truth and intent of the situation, but he hasn’t done his already tarnished reputation any favors.
Before this situation occurred, Reed was making headlines early in the week with some mysterious irons in his bag. As an equipment free-agent if you will, he is open to play whatever he wants as he is not under contract with any manufacturer. They do appear on the USGA Conforming List, which is required before being put in play. On the list the manufacturer is listed as “Emery JPN Co.” That doesn’t necessarily mean that is the brand name, they were just built in the Emery factory in Japan. The irons are forged muscle-backs and feature Patrick Reed’s name in script writing. Engraved on the back of the toe is what looks like an eagle or some type of bird logo. Reed had them custom-built for him and he was influential in their development, which took almost a year. He stated that he struggled with bouts of spraying the ball out-of-nowhere the last 2 seasons and when he hits these he knows exactly where they’re going. Well that’s an incredibly comforting thought.
Enjoy the game and each other,
Written by Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional
Design and Published by Craig Walton