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Patrick Reed defends actions after once again being accused of cheating

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Patrick Reed is at it again. Or at least plenty of golf fans think he’s at it again.

Everyone’s favorite golfer to hate encountered yet another controversy at the Farmers Insurance Open on Saturday, when an unusual decision led to accusations that Reed had cheated by picking up a ball he claimed to have been embedded.

The sequence of events on the 10th hole at Torrey Pines basically went like this: Reed hits the ball out of a bunker. The ball veers to the left of the green and bounces once before landing in some thick rough. Reed arrives at the ball and asks a volunteer if it bounced. Volunteer says “No, I didn’t see it bounce.” Reed announces he’s going to check the ball and picks it up. Reed puts it down and calls over rules official. Reed tells rules official the ball didn’t bounce and asks him to assess if the ball broke ground. Rules official concurs the ball broke ground and grants Reed embedded ball relief. Reed goes up and down for par with a much better lie.

Here’s the shot (and bounce):

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And here’s the aftermath:

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So, where did Reed go (or do) wrong in all that?

First, plenty of golf fans, as well as CBS analysts, were skeptical that a ball could get embedded after bouncing. Reed’s ball only bounced a few feet in the air, so questions of physics abound here.

Second, Reed’s order of operations — picking up the ball, calling over the rules official, telling him it didn’t bounce — sure had the look of a person who was trying to get away with turning a bad lie into an embedded ball ruling. He theoretically could have even created the indent by pushing into the ground while picking up the ball or pointing it out to the rules official.

The round on Saturday was being played with preferred lies due to recent rain, but that doesn’t apply to balls in the rough.

Patrick Reed defends embedded ball claim

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 30: Patrick Reed walks off the seventh tee box during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines South on January 30, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)
Only Patrick Reed. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

After the round, Reed defended his actions in interviews with CBS and Golf Channel, claiming he didn’t see the ball land or bounce and reiterating he had been told by the volunteer the ball didn’t bounce.

“When we’re out there, we can’t see everything,” Reed said to CBS. “When that happens, you have to go by what the volunteers say, what the rules officials say. When all comes push and shove, we feel like we did the right thing and the rules official said we did it absolutely perfectly. With that being said, we moved on and just continued playing.”

When speaking to Golf Channel, however, Reed conceded “the ball did bounce” and said it is “literally impossible” for a ball to embed on a bounce.

Some golfers weren’t amused while watching the situation play out, including Reed’s competitor Michael Gellerman and the LPGA’s Marina Alex.

PGA rules official agrees with Patrick Reed

While many called for Reed to be penalized, one person taking Reed’s side was PGA rules official Ken Tackett. In an interview with CBS’s Jim Nantz, Tackett said he believed Reed acted appropriately on the 10th hole.

“He went through the process,” Tackett said. “Everyone felt the ball disappeared off the shot, the volunteer said it didn’t bounce, he checked to see if it was embedded, he called an official ... He did all the things we ask to do of a player. It’s difficult, you get to second-guessing when you see video. Soft conditions, there’s a lot of variables out there.

“We’re fine with the outcome of the situation.”

Patrick Reed defends embedded ball claim ... again

Perhaps sensing the golfing world was still criticizing him, Reed jumped onto Twitter to yell at an account with about 100 followers that Rory McIlroy had done the same thing that day.

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A weird tweet got even weirder when a different account with a history of defending Reed tweeted the exact same thing, leading to accusations that Reed was using a burner account to defend himself.

Reed gets zero benefit of the doubt

This kind of controversy only seems to happen with Reed these days, for obvious reasons. Accusations of cheating have followed Reed from his college days, and came to a head when Reed got caught blatantly cheating at the 2019 Hero World Challenge. Not helping matters was when his caddy — and brother-in-law — got into an altercation with a spectator at the Presidents Cup in the wake of the accusations.

So even if Reed genuinely believed the ball didn’t bounce, asked everyone available to double check and saw a ball improbably embedded in the ground, some will find it hard to believe that he only made an honest mistake. And if Reed saw the ball bounce on video after saying a ball couldn’t embed off a bounce, you have to wonder why he wouldn’t take a penalty.

The rest of Reed’s round didn’t play out very well either, as he went from a four-stroke lead after the fateful 10th hole to four bogies on the back 9, sitting tied for the lead with Carlos Ortiz at 10-under at the end of the third round.

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