Golfers at all levels are obliged to play by the honor system. That includes PGA Tour pro Patrick Reed, who has gained a reputation for being less than honorable.
Reed, the No. 11 player in the world, opened himself up for more accusations of cheating with what he did on the 10th hole at Torrey Pines on Saturday. He was able to improve his lie after an approach shot landed in deep, wet rough. Rules official Brad Fabel agreed with Reed’s contention that his shot had become embedded in the tall grass and permitted Reed a free drop.
MORE: Reed addressed cheating controversy prior to ’19 Presidents Cup
The problem is that Reed prematurely picked up his ball, cleaned it and placed it a few feet back before calling over Fabel. The prevailing thought was that Reed should have marked his ball where he originally found it and then consulted with the official.
CBS’s live video showed Reed’s shot bouncing once and then nestling in the rough. Reed spoke with a tournament volunteer as he approached the ball in the rough; she said that she didn’t see the ball bounce. Reed then entered the gray area of a rules violation.
The CBS broadcast team of Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo were skeptical after watching the episode unfold. They also weren’t sold on the network’s Tour rules consultant, Ken Tackett, defending Reed. Tackett said only that Reed “got ahead of himself a little bit.”
“The optics are not good,” Nantz said (per Golf.com, which laid out the rules related to this incident).
Reed told CBS’s Amanda Balionis after his round that no one in his playing group saw his shot bounce. He said he only saw what actually happened after a rules official showed him the video in the scorer’s tent. He said the official then told him he handled the situation “perfectly.”
Reed said much the same to Golf Channel.
“We’re fine with the outcome of the situation,” Tackett said after the round, per PGATour.com.
Reed signed for a 70 after his round; he is tied for the tournament lead after 54 holes. But he now knows that his shot on 10 bounced before stopping, which contradicts what he saw and was told. Should Reed have admitted an error and called a one-stroke penalty on himself, thus giving himself a 71? Or later disqualified himself for signing an incorrect scorecard? That would have been the honorable thing.