The Round Table: can Patrick Reed get a fair shake?

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.

Last week, Max Homa won the Farmers Insurance Open for his fifth PGA Tour title in the last two years and sixth overall. Along the way he has become something of a celebrity for his social media presence and sense of humour. Because of his easygoing manner, some want to dismiss Homa’s intensity and suggest he lacks a killer instinct. Nonetheless, it looks like he’ll be a fixture on Ryder Cups and in majors for some time. Do you think he’s a budding superstar or just another very good player enjoying a few moments in the limelight?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Probably the latter, although I hope it’s more the former.  He’s got some character and fan appeal, and the PGA Tour needs that.

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): I really enjoyed watching this tournament for the first time in a while, it fit my schedule ending on a Saturday too. Max is simply a late bloomer. You don’t win the NCAA title (over Jon Rahm mind you) by accident. I love his simple swing and approach to the game; his attitude is second to none and he has clearly shown he knows how to win. I think he is a superstar, and he’ll be here for some time to come. And he’s one of the few newbies that I really like.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: Max Homa is living the dream. Good enough to win and compete regularly and not be so famous he can’t take his wife out for dinner. He has the perfect game to play week-in and week-out – lots of fairways and greens, so every week he is in the top 30. He has had enough success financially so he is only playing for his own goals. A young family, travelling together and having fun. A gorgeous golf swing that might stand up in a major. He might want to win a major but be careful what you wish for; it could change a lot of things. I love his humour.

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): It’s always hard to tell, isn’t it?  Many guys have had hot stretches such as the one that Max is enjoying, and then faded quickly into the sunset.  I hope he continues to get in contention because he’s a likeable guy and one who the Tour could use for marketing purposes.  I’m not sure you could say that he doesn’t have the killer instinct though, as it seems every time he’s in contention he wins.  I hope he is a fixture on Ryder Cup teams for years to come because he’ll add interest on and off the course.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: The guy is good, he’s in tune with the social media game and the game between the ropes. He’s explained working with a sports psychologist has really helped. He could well be the late-blooming star of the next few years, and it will be fun to tune in.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): I look at Homa as a very entertaining guy with a terrific golf game, exceptional work ethic and enough drive to put himself in contention in the biggest events. He seems pretty grounded as evidenced by his latest speech after winning the Farmers. Anyone that can wax on about poop and changing diapers knows what’s important. I suspect Homa could handle winning a major or two better than most and it’s probably one of his goals. However, if superstardom never happens, he seems like he could handle being an ordinary star just as well.

The gift that keeps on giving has written another chapter, this time in two parts. First it was Patrick Reed vs Rory McIlroy on the range at the Dubai Desert Classic where McIlroy apparently snubbed Reed’s attempt to be friendly; then in the third round of the tournament when Reed “lost” a ball in a tree off the 17th tee but was able to identify it with the aid of binoculars and the on-course officials, thereby saving himself at least a stroke. Many in the golf industry allege that Reed was looking at the wrong tree so it’s a miracle he could spot his ball. Typically, in our polarized world, everyone is taking sides in the latest Reed sagas. Is Patrick so damaged by previous controversies that he can’t get a fair shake, regardless of the circumstances?

Deeks: I think there may be a bit of that (not getting a fair shake), but the guy does bring it on himself with attitude. If he really wants to be accepted, especially in view of past transgressions, he should always err on the side of caution and be seen to be always playing by the rules.  In this case, he probably should’ve said “it looks like my ball, but I can’t be certain it was this tree, so I’ll go back and play three off the tee.”  Bobby Jones would’ve done that.

Loughry: As they say you earn your reputation, and Reed has certainly earned his. Can he get a fair shake in any net new situation? He should, but he certainly doesn’t make it easy to give him the benefit of doubt considering his history. I really loved seeing Rory win by one over Reed this week though, chalk one up for the good guy.

Rule: Man was I happy to see that putt drop for Rory on the 72nd hole.  If Reed had won, he would have been intolerable.  And let’s be honest, he shouldn’t have been that close because clearly he didn’t identify his ball on the 17th hole on Sunday, he was looking in the wrong tree!  He’s made his own bed based on his on course antics over the years, having cheated and been caught several times, so I think the shakes he gets are more than fair!

Quinn: When the issues are sustained over the years — and we’re talking back to college days — the buildup eliminates any chance of a ‘fair shake’ until all the evidence is in. And if the evidence is indisputable and still met with denials, then the case should be closed. There are an awful lot of golfers and golf fans happy that Reed is relegated to the wilderness of LIV.

Mumford: Some of these things get blown way out of proportion. Rory certainly has an attitude about LIV players, including Sergio Garcia who was one of his best mates. But Patrick is a lightening rod and everything he does is fodder for a news byte. Ironically, McIlroy defended Reed’s lost ball issue while Brandel Chamblee, a noted Reed and LIV Golf hater, has analyzed it like the Zapruder film. Reed is tainted goods. He could join a monastery, take a vow of silence and dedicate the rest of his life to helping starving orphans and it wouldn’t be enough for some. But we shouldn’t despair. Professional golf is entertainment and every story needs a villain.

CBS kicked off its 2023 season at the Farmers with Trevor Immelman taking over for Nick Faldo in the lead analyst role and several other tweaks to the broadcast format including micing up Max Homa and actually talking to players during play. Last year CBS was heavily criticized for its stodgy and unimaginative broadcast. Are the 2023 changes enough or just lipstick on a pig? 

Deeks: Too early to tell for me.  But certainly steps in the right direction.  CBS coverage has been like watching slow-drying paint for me over the last few seasons.

Schurman: PGA TOUR golf on TV is in trouble. Feherty was fun until he became the lead announcer which made him try too hard and now, of course, he’s gone. Miller was great with Roger. Faldo was very good but not enough detail about the situation. Peter Allis and Henry Longhurst were the best. From a pure perspective of what constitutes a perfect announcer, I pick Tony Romo for the NFL but I really dislike him for golf. If LIV comes up with something unique they could steal a lot of viewers. Nothing beats on-course interviews and listening in on the player/caddy exchanges.

Loughry: So far it is different. I actually liked Nobilo on the telecast (he’s one of my favourites). Mic’d up Max was just OK, seemed a little awkward but at least they’re trying new takes. I’ll give it more time before completely judging them, but so far so good.

Schurman: Rory is developing another personality he hasn’t shown before. We know about Reed, and nothing is a surprise. If you lie down with dogs you might get fleas.

Rule: It’s nice to see them making changes and getting the players more involved in the broadcast, perhaps showing their more human side while competing at the top level.  They still need less interviews with sponsors and more golf in their broadcasts but I guess that’s what pays the bills!

Quinn: On one par three, with Rahm choosing an 8-iron, Jim Nance, then Immelman, then Ian Baker-Finch, then Dottie Pepper gave their opinion on what the shot demanded. That’s a lot of lipstick. Shut up, already.

Mumford: The choice of Trevor Immelman as lead analyst seemed rushed and questionable at the time. His primary qualifications seem to be that he has an accent and a major on his resume. Not sure he’s even the best Immelman on TV, as brother Mark has done some very strong work. But he’s competent and fits right in with the don’t-rock-the-boat CBS crew. Micing up Max Homa and interviewing Sam Ryder’s mom was cute but not ground-breaking stuff. I think they need a couple of personalities on the telecast that actually have personalities. The current crew is bland. Someone needs to show CBS that there are other colours besides beige.

The Round Table
The Round Table is a panel of golf writers, PGA members and industry experts.

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