Golf: Third-round co-leader Reed embroiled in Torrey Pines rules controversy

Patrick Reed hitting his tee shot on the 2nd hole during round three of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines South, on Jan 30, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Co-leader Patrick Reed was embroiled in a rules controversy over what was deemed an embedded ball in Saturday's (Jan 30) third round of the US PGA Tour's Farmers Insurance Open.

The 2018 Masters champion fired a two-under 70 to match Mexico's Carlos Ortiz, who posted the day's low round of 66, on 10-under 206 after 54 holes at Torrey Pines north of San Diego.

But overshadowing the day's action was his second shot at the par-four 10th hole and the aftermath of what PGA rules officials declared were proper actions on his part.

"We did exactly what we were supposed to do," Reed said. "That's what we felt is the right thing and what the rules officials thought was the right thing."

The world No. 11 held a four-stroke lead when his shot landed in the left rough, bounced once and settled in the deep grass. But neither Reed, his playing partners, their caddies or a volunteer near the landing area had seen the ball bounce.

When Reed arrived at the ball, he treated it as a potentially embedded ball, lifted it and felt an indention in the ground, then called over a rules official who ruled it was indeed an embedded ball and gave him a free drop, setting up a 14-foot par-saving putt.

"Whenever we're taking relief, we check to see if it's embedded," Reed said. "When I marked the ball, I lifted the ball and I put my finger down there. There was a lip on both sides. It had broken the plane (of the ground) so there was relief."

Social media exploded with critics who watched the scene called for a penalty on the 30-year-old American.

"It's an unfortunate situation at the end of the day," Reed said.

Reed would bogey four of the next six holes but sink an eight-foot birdie putt at the par-five 18th to share the lead with Ortiz.

Rules officials did go over video of the incident at the 10th with Reed before he emerged from the scorers' tent, but they also said he had acted properly given he thought the ball had landed where it did on the fly.

Reed said they told him everything he did was "textbook" for the situation.

"It was reasonable to conclude it was his pitchmark and it was embedded," said senior tournament director John Mutch.

"The player is entitled to do that (lift the ball out). He did nothing wrong. He marked it, lifted it and called for a ruling."

Reed said he would have done nothing differently knowing only what he knew then.

"I feel fine. I feel great," he said. "I did everything I was supposed to do. And I feel even better making birdie at the last."

It's far from the first cheating accusation Reed has faced since his college days, claims he has vehemently denied.

At the 2019 Hero World Challenge, tournament leader Reed twice moved sand behind his ball in a waste area. Reed said he saw no movement but television cameras caught an improved lie and he was issued a two-stroke penalty.

He said he feels he gets more scrutiny from viewers over calls than other players.

"Definitely," he said. "It's an unfortunate thing that happened today but it's exactly what I should do. That's all you can do. When you're out there playing, you can't see everything.

"The great thing is I still have a chance to win a golf tournament."

'Everything was working'

Reed is seeking a ninth US PGA victory and first since last February's WGC Mexico Championship.

"(I need to) just continue doing what I'm doing, make solid contact into the greens and make the putter do the work," he said.

Ortiz's late charge left him in the clubhouse well before Reed was done.

"I drove it really nice. Hit some great shots into the par-threes," the 29-year-old said. "It was just one of those days when everything was working. It was nice."

A third-place pack two adrift on 208 consisted of Australia's Adam Scott, Spain's Jon Rahm, Norway's Viktor Hovland and Americans Sam Burns and Lanto Griffin.

Four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy was among a quartet on 209.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.