Patrick Reed caused uproar in a waste area at the Hero World Challenge. But should he have received a harsher penalty? Two of our writers go head to head
Patrick Reed found himself at the centre of a rules storm at the Hero World Challenge.
The former Masters champion was struck with a two-shot penalty at Albany in the Bahamas after he was judged to have improved his lie in a sanded waste area near the 11th green during the third round.
He’d barely finished the hole before a clip of the incident was being shared all over social media and there were plenty lining up to argue Reed should have been given a much harsher punishment.
- Related: What actually happened?
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So should the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup hero have been kicked out of the tournament? Two of our writers discuss…
‘Wherever you stand a two-shot penalty doesn’t seem to fit the crime’
This was so basic an infringement that it was like watching a mate who plays golf twice a year, and he knows and we know that he’s not playing by the rules, but we can’t be bothered to pull him up on it, writes Mark Townsend.
Look at all the other players and they’re taking practice swings nowhere near the ball. Reed, for some reason, puts his club right in behind the ball and that’s before anything else goes on.
There’s enough in the rule book, which still remains slightly unfathomable for many of us, to boot him out of the tournament and not many would have been standing up for Reed had this happened.
But, as pathetic as this was, proving what Reed was doing is a bit trickier. He’s not been caught preferring his ball (though not far off it) or dropping a ball down his trouser leg or altering his scorecard and there has to be an element, in this type of situation, of listening to how Reed explains himself.
At its best it’s clumsy, at its worst it’s another ‘c’ word that others have called him.
Wherever you stand a two-shot penalty doesn’t seem to fit the crime. Reed very nearly still won the tournament so a possible way forward out of all this mess, and one that Frank Nobilo has suggested, is to incorporate a two-shot penalty for each time the offence is committed.
This way Reed, having brushed away the sand twice, would have incurred a four-shot penalty which would probably appease one or two of his critics, though possibly not that too many more.
Not many are fans of Reed and his reputation goes before him. Just for example, had someone as classy as Jim Furyk been caught like this, it would likely be put down as an aberration or misunderstanding.
All this said every fan, TV camera and playing partner will now be watching Reed like a hawk and most have written him off as an out-and-out cheat so, for even someone as bullet proof as Reed, he’s hardly got away with it.
‘Once intent was taken off the table, a DQ was never going to happen’
You’re angry. You wanted Patrick Reed booted so far out of the Bahamas, he’d have been well on his way to Australia, writes Steve Carroll.
Reed committed an infraction – his practice swings from the waste area deemed to have improved conditions affecting the stroke and flouting Rule 8.1a – and he was penalised for it.
The rulebook states a two-shot penalty applies.
As so many people have furiously pointed out, though, why wasn’t he disqualified?
I have an issue with how Slugger White handled the aftermath – for the odd categorisation of Reed as a ‘gentleman’ for the way he took his punishment – but once the PGA Tour’s VP of rules and competitions said intent was ‘not in the mix’ a DQ was never going to happen.
Rule 1.2a (1), considering what counts as serious misconduct, does give tournament committees an option to disqualify for “deliberately not playing in accordance with the Rules and potentially gaining a significant advantage by doing so, despite incurring a penalty for a breach of the relevant Rule”.
And 1.3b says if “a player knows that he or she has breached a Rule that involves a penalty and deliberately fails to apply the penalty, the player is disqualified”.
Do you see why intent matters and, by taking that off the table, a DQ isn’t really an option?
You will have your views of what was in Reed’s mind, and whether intent should have been a central theme on how the matter was dealt with. For his part, the player insists there was none.
But with White’s assertion that “intent wouldn’t matter here”, the rules were applied and we move on.
Do you agree with Mark or is Steve on the money? Have your say in the comments or tweet us.