Patrick Reed in controversy over new rules around stuck ball in tree

Golf official with binoculars in Dubai

Patrick Reed is involved in yet another controversy over rules after the American stated that despite TV suggesting otherwise, he was “100 per cent sure” it was his ball that got stuck in a tree in Dubai. walk back to the tee.

Predictably, social media was quickly in turmoil following the incident in the third round of the Dubai Desert Classic in which Reed peered into the branches through binoculars and assured the officials that he was sure it was his ball due to the distinctive markings.

The Rules of Golf state that if Reed was in doubt whether it was his ball or not, he would take a penalty stroke and a distance penalty and go back to play three off the tee. As it was, Reed got to take a one-time penalty drop next to the tree and escaped with a bogey five.

Reed went on to birdie on 18th for 69 and a total of 11 under, in a tie for fourth place, four behind leader Rory McIlroy going into Monday’s final round.

Reed and McIlroy have been embroiled in a bust-up at the Emirates Golf Club all week after McIlroy refused to acknowledge the LIV Golf rebel, whose lawyers served the world’s number 1 with a subpoena on Christmas Eve. Reed responded to Rory’s disapproval by slapping a LIV-branded tee on his feet.

As one joker put it, Reed’s week has gone from “Teegate” to “Treegate”.

When asked by Telegraph Sport, Reed was unequivocal about it being his ball. “100 percent,” he said. “I would have gone back to the tee if I wasn’t 100 percent… I was lucky we could see through the binoculars and you have to make sure it’s your ball and how I mark my golf balls is that I always put an arrow at the end of my line because with the Pro VI the arrow stops at the end in front of it so you can see the arrow.

“And you could definitely see and identify the line with the arrow at the end, and the rules officer was happy to reconfirm it and check to make sure it was mine too.”

The Tour later released a statement, detailing why the course decision had been ratified. “During the third round of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, two course umpires and several marshals discovered that Patrick Reed’s ball got caught in a specific tree after his tee shot at 17,” the post read.

“The DP World Tour Chief Referee joined the player in the area and asked him to identify his distinctive ball markings. Using binoculars, the head referee was convinced that a ball with those markings had got stuck in the tree. The player then took an unplayable penalty drop (Rule 19.2c) at the point directly below the ball on the ground. To clarify, the player was not asked to specify the tree, but to identify his signature ball markings to confirm it was his ball.

Reed is apparently exonerated, but believe it, the affair will not die. Reed is no stranger to rule violations. Three years ago, he received two strokes for deliberately correcting his lie in a bunker – a charge he still denies. And in 2021, he was at the center of another social media storm when he picked up the ball to check if it was embedded, despite the TV showing him hopping forward.

In both cases, he defended himself against the allegations and scolded the media and social media for singlesing him out.

The affair overshadowed McIlroy’s fine day, on which he made the first four birdies to gain a four-shot lead with three more consecutive birdies on the back nine. However, he knocked his second in the water on the par-five 18th to keep things interesting in the extra day forced by the dramatic desert showers in the first two rounds.

In 14 attempts, McIlroy is yet to win his first start of the year, despite finishing in the top five 12 times. “I’d like to do something I haven’t done before,” he said.

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