Patrick Reed, who never seems short on controversy, found it once again on Saturday during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open on the par-4 10th hole when he removed his ball from an embedded lie and took a free drop. The 10th was part of a roller coaster 18 in which Reed shot 70 and is tied for the lead going into Sunday’s final round.
After his second shot on the par-4 10th hole bounded off to the left side of the hole in the thick rough, Reed walked toward it, bent over and picked it up. He claimed that it was embedded even though video evidence shows that it took a bounce after it first landed and jumped no more than 3 feet back up in the air. For it to be embedded, the ground would have had to been insanely wet.
Reed said after his round that nobody in his group nor the volunteer standing near the ball saw it bounce so he was checking to see if it had “broken the plane” of the ground.
After moving it, Reed called a rules official over and had him stick his fingers in the pitch mark. The official, clearly surprised Reed had already moved the ball, confirmed that there was indeed a lip where Reed’s ball first came to rest and deemed that Reed was correct to remove the embedded ball. From there, Reed went on to get a drop and got up and down for par.
Reed was shocked that the post-round video showed that the ball had bounced and confirmed that it’s “almost impossible” for a ball to plug (or embed) if it bounces at all. That begs a lot of questions, not the least of which is what lip he and the rules official were feeling if it’s “almost impossible” for the ball to plug when it bounces.
Reed confirmed that the rules official told him that everything was done “perfectly” and it was a “textbook” handling of a wonky situation. He also seemed to pass off blame onto the volunteer who never saw the ball bounce as well as the rules official who confirmed the embed. If it was an attempt to see how much leeway the rules official would give him (he wouldn’t be the first one to do this), it was a successful one.
“If you had 100 people around there, bunch of fans out there and one fan said they saw it bounce, I never would have had to put a tee down and even check to see if it was embedded,” Reed said.”You go by best judgment as well as that’s why you always call a rules official, because at the end of the day they’re going to have the best judgment over everybody. If they believe that it’s embedded as well, that’s then when you go by what they say.”
Reed said he would not have done anything differently and in fact, holds himself as a model for what players on the PGA Tour should do in situations like these.
“It is an unfortunate thing that happened today, but at the same time it’s exactly what I would have done every time, exactly what every player should do,” Reed said. “You should ask your playing opponents if they’ve seen whether it’s a ball bounce or whether it crosses a hazard line, you always ask them first and then you ask the volunteer, and then from there you check to see and at that point, you call a rules official.
“It’s unfortunate, but at the same time when you have the rules officials and everybody come up and said that you did it textbook and did it exactly how you’re supposed to do, then that’s all you can do. I mean, when we’re out there and we’re playing, we can’t see everything. That’s why you rely on the other players, other opponents, you rely on the volunteers as well as rely on the rules officials. When they all say what we’ve done is the right thing, then you move on and you go on.”
The whole thing was questionable for somebody who’s never had a run-in with the rules. For Reed? It borders on the indefensible, and the more he talked after the round, the worse it seemed to get. Following the brouhaha at the 10th, Reed made four bogeys in his next six holes before a birdie at the last got him in at 10 under and tied for the lead going into Sunday.
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