Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.
Patrick Reed incurred a two-stroke penalty in the third round of the Hero International for improving his lie in a waste bunker. Reed says it was unintentional, but video replay makes that hard to swallow. Oddly, he did exactly the same thing at the Hero in 2015. Fellow pros have weighed in with harsh criticism of both the act of cheating and Reed personally. What’s your take on the incident?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Even I would’ve been prepared to give the Ogre a pass (because you know me and my attitude toward the Rules of Golf), until you mentioned that he’d done the same thing at the same event four years ago. Aside from heinous, this then makes the transgression just plain stupid. You would think that Reed, having been accused of cheating several times in his past, and being one of the most unpopular players on the Tour, would try extra hard to avoid controversy and curry the approbation of his peers, but apparently not. His DNA seems to have a dominant jerk chromosome.
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): Oh Patty, here we go again eh? In case any readers missed it, all of my round tables, including last week have been ripping on Reed, and rightfully so, he brings it on himself. And this week he just added more fuel to the fire, the Aussie’s will be ruthless in their treatment of Reed. I can see them walking around with shovels, or painted chests spelling out SANDMAN, or CHEAT(ER). I look forward to this though! My take on this incident is that it fits with the person, I expect it from him, and I’m certain others do too. He’s not the kind of person that would call a penalty on himself (EVER), and if he got away with this, he would have just let it be and moved on not said anything. Playing dumb to the incident is expected too, its his nature. I’m not sure he’s smart enough to know that EVERYONE from here forward will be watching him like a hawk, every week every shot making sure he doesn’t cheat, because he’s has shown on many occasions that he can’t be trusted. How Tiger pairs him this week will be VERY interesting, I’m not sure anyone on the US team wants to be paired with him because of the shear distraction but because he’s Reed! I’d seriously consider sitting him out until singles. Good Luck to the US team dealing with all that.
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Life Member, PGA of Canada: Patrick Reed has a gift that he has had since he was very young. Being a winner is a big deal in the USA and it comes with accolades, recognition, idolization and privilege. I have not been a champion golfer, but I have had many personal experiences with people who have been, and I can tell you some of them not only believe their press clippings, they truly think they are allowed many liberties in life. Reed’s view of himself is one of entitlement both on and off the course. Others have had the same outlook in the past: O.J. Simpson, Tiger Woods, Zlatan live a life they believe they are entitled to because they can do something at a level few others have ever achieved. Ali had an awful streak of arrogance but in his words “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it”. In Patrick’s defence, the incident occurred in a waste area where he MIGHT have felt he could touch the sand. However, once he did it the first time and the sand was moved, he then did it second time meaning it was not accidental. I have long maintained that touring professionals should be rules experts. Their livelihood depends on it. This is a basic rule of golf “Thou shalt play the ball as it lies”. Last, his justification is “it’s my word against theirs” is pretty weak.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): Unintentional . . . ha! Please. He did it twice and then tried to play it off like it was fake news and some magical alternative camera angle out there would eventually clear his name. 🙄🙄🙄 Getting caught cheating is worth strokes. Lying about it afterwards is worth a DQ. If I was in charge, I wouldn’t have thought twice about giving him the boot.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Once a jerk, always a jerk. Inexcusable to brush back the sand once and not call it on yourself. Twice is flat out cheating. There is a lot to not like about this Eldrick party — besides the presence of Reed — especially the self-congratulations for raising $185,000 for the Bahamas Fund to help rebuild Abaco. Of course, that pales when compared with last-place Bubba’s fee of $100,000 plus expenses from the $3.5 M purse. Equally egregious is the granting of world ranking points to Eldrick’s 18 guests. Inexcusable.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): This was blatant, willful cheating. There’s no way to disguise it, rationalize it or excuse it. Reed knows it and we know it. Unfortunately, the American team will rally around Reed at the Presidents Cup for the sake of team unity but some of them must be sick at the thought of defending a cheater.
The Presidents Cup will be contested this week in Australia and up until recently, the US looked to be overwhelming favourites. However, player changes on both sides due to injury and now the Reed fiasco have evened the odds somewhat. Who do you think will win?
Deeks: My heart says the Internationals will win, but my head (which is, of course, infallible and beyond question), and history, both say the Americans will, even with the Ogre on the squad. (I can’t wait to hear Reed whine about how he was shunned by his peers. A photo with the US team all flipping the bird at the guy would be priceless.) But the overall winner of the Cup will be Royal Melbourne Golf Club, which we don’t get to see very often. It may be Number One on my bucket list.
Loughry: The US squad will win the President’s Cup again. They’re the stronger team on paper. The only intangible is the Reed situation, plus him as a person/teammate, plus his family. We’ll have to wait to see if that will help the US team self implode and be the kryptonite the International team needs to pull off a win. Unfortunately, the International team just isn’t that strong. I hope one day it will be, or that an upset happens this week, I’ll be cheering for them (but hope Tiger gets nothing but points in his matches). Reed did sprinkle a little more attention on this event, so I’ll certainly be tuning in, especially for his first tee shot.
Schurman: Of course, the Americans should win but there is an opening.
Kaplan: I think it’s closer than it looks on paper. I’m giving a slight edge to the Americans, who have advantages over the international team in terms of roster depth and chemistry, but I’m certainly not counting the international team out. I like the addition of Ben An to the international team and I have a feeling that Adam Hadwin makes up for his poor Presidents Cup debut in 2017 with a magnificent performance this week.
Quinn: It would be good for golf itsownself if this is close. I think there could well be some exciting upsets in a few matches, but once again, there will be a lot of better things to do than watch it.
Mumford: The Internationals will win as Cameron Smith beats Patrick Reed in the final singles match and all the American players lift Smith onto their shoulders and carry him off to celebrate, leaving Reed the Cheater all by himself. It probably won’t happen like that, but one can fantasize.
Phil Mickelson has announced that he will skip the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February in favour of the Saudi International. Phil has played in the Phoenix event 30 times, is a multiple past champion and as a former ASU Sun Devil, his appearance is a boost to the tournament. Presumably the Saudis will be writing Phil a big cheque for showing up in their event. Phil says he’s going to help grow the game over there. We’ve dealt with questions like this in the past where pros play in countries with repressive governments and a history of human rights abuses. What’s your reaction to Mickelson’s decision?
Deeks: Unfortunately, this little issue will blow over with the speed of a tumbleweed in a windstorm, but it shouldn’t. I think it’s unforgivable of Phil to turn his back on an event with which he is probably identified more than any other player. The guy’s worth, what, $100 million? Does he really need an extra million (or two, or three) for showing up in a repressive country, supporting a regime which would be an international pariah if the US weren’t so dependent on its goodwill? He’s going to “grow the game”? C’mon Phil, pull the other leg. Amy, give him your best “Phil’s being a bad boy” pout.
Loughry: Bonehead move by Lefty. Money whispers sweet temptation to Mickelson I guess, I wouldn’t go anywhere near this 2nd year event for all the political reasons (and safety). The fact he’s getting an appearance fee to do it makes it even worse in my opinion, and even worse than that, saying he’s going there to “grow the game”? I’d like to know exactly what the plan is for that to happen. Is he putting on clinics for locals? Visiting school children? How’s the woman’s game over there? Does his visit help introduce the game to woman in Saudi Arabia? I think some criticism needs to go to the European Tour for sanctioning this event in the first place. Perhaps that’s a topic for another day for this table (likely at the end of January when this event is conducted)!
Schurman: Professional athletes are entertainers who get paid to perform. If you don’t think they should play for the most money they can earn, fill the field with amateurs. BTW Rory turned down an appearance fee of $2.5M from the Saudis and few are congratulating him among others who did the same. In Phil’s words “I understand those who are upset or disappointed. You’ll be OK.” In the past couple of years, a new standard of ethics has surfaced in the USA determined by ones’ level of tolerance within themselves. In other words, you can do anything you want as long as you deem it to be OK just like Phil is doing. There are no rules, no boundaries, no limitations, no restrictions and no moral standards. “We do that all the time. Get over it:”
Kaplan: He’s played in the event 30 times, so I think he’s more than justified skipping next year’s WMPO. Like many others, I am not in favour of professionals playing in countries with repressive governments and monarchies, and I’m not buying the idea of the game being grown in a desert country where the only people who would be rich enough to play are the oppressors themselves. This is a cash grab, through and through, and it’s concerning that these multi-millionaires don’t seem to think twice about casting aside any personal codes of ethics or morality when cashing blood-money cheques (even if the amounts payable on those cheques are enormous). But at the end of the day, it’s Phil’s choice and his choice alone.
Quinn: As the stomach turns. Eldrick reportedly turned down $3 M to sing for the Saudis, so Phil’s fee will be in that range. Maybe some insider trade went bad, or a few bets went south, or maybe Phil has well and truly lost his grip on a moral compass. Sickening, particularly when contrasted with the remarkable charity work each and every year by the volunteer Thunderbirds at the Phoenix Open.
Mumford: Is Gordon Gekko Phil’s new agent? Lots of finger pointing all round on this one though. Why is Keith Pelley holding a European Tour event in Saudi Arabia in the first place? What about all the other players who are going? Phil’s not alone on this – he’s just the one taking the flak. And it’s pretty hard to get around the fact that Trump goes out of his way to gloss over Saudi atrocities, which then gives license for anyone to hob-knob with them in a golf tournament. Disgusting behaviour all round.