Rory McIlroy has come out in defence of Patrick Reed after the American’s latest controversy at the Dubai Desert Classic.
With both players in contention during the closing stages of Sunday’s third round of the weather-delayed DP World Tour event, an errant drive from Reed found a tree on the 17th hole.
After consultation with two referees, Reed identified his ball and was told to take a penalty drop under the tree before he pitched onto the green and rescued a bogey five.
It sent social media into a frenzy as slow-motion TV replays showed Reed’s ball going into a different tree to that on which they originally thought it had.
But the one person who was least bothered about it all was McIlroy, who would go on to sink a 15-foot putt on Monday to edge out his former Ryder Cup foe by a single shot.
“I felt it was fine,” the 33-year-old said after sealing his third Dubai Desert Classic crown.
“If it had been anyone else in the field it would have been a non-issue, but because of certain things in the past, people bring stuff up, which is maybe unfair in some ways.
“But again, it is what it is. I’ve stood and defended Patrick in some of the controversies. I don’t feel like he was trying to get any advantage.”
As for Reed, he is brushing off the criticism.
“I’ve heard about it,” the 2018 Masters champion said, “but really all I can say is that I looked through the binoculars, identified my golf ball and explained what my markings were to the rules official. He looked and he identified [the ball] exactly the same way I did.”
He added: “The good thing is I know who I am. All I can do is focus on my golf and focus on me. Felt like I’ve done that this week. Felt like I played great.
“It always seems to come down to Rory and I. We love to put on a good show. Unfortunately, I was on the wrong end of this one. Hats off to him, he played some great golf.”
Reed later issued a brief statement – typed out as a text message – via social media…
Could the golf ball be rolled back for everyone?