Patrick Reed was assessed a two-shot penalty, after conferring with rules officials following his third round at the Hero World Challenge on Friday, for improving his lie in a sandy waste area on the 11th hole at Albany Golf Club.
Video clearly shows Reed taking a practice swing with his club behind the ball and sand moving as he takes the club back twice.
Reed insisted to reporters afterward that there was no intent to improve his lie and that the camera angle from behind doesn’t show how much of a gap there was between the ball and where his club touched the sand.
“The face [of the club] is open as I’m going back, and it’s barely touching the sand,” Reed said. “If it was from my angle, you would have thought I would have felt if it was dragging. From the side you would have seen that with the backswing. It was not improving the lie because I was far enough away from the golf ball because when I take my practice swings anyways, I don’t ever put the club directly behind the ball because I’m always scared of the ball moving. I’m always going to give myself some room, especially on the practice swings.
“After seeing that camera angle, because it brushed the sand, it’s a penalty.”
Reed wasn’t convinced he had committed a violation but accepted the penalty because of the video he viewed.
His score of bogey-6 was changed to a triple-bogey 8 and his total score went from 72 to 74.
That means Reed went from being one shot behind leader Gary Woodland through 54 holes to three shots back and in sixth place.
According to the PGA Tour, Reed violated Rule 8.1a (4): “removing or pressing down sand on loose soil.”
Reed, who led the tournament at the start of the day, struggled for much of the third round. His shot into the sandy area on the par-5 11th hole left him contemplating how to play it, and because it is not a bunker, it appeared that there was sand behind his ball. He was playing his third shot; the ball trickled over the green and he ended up making a bogey-6 before the penalty strokes were added.
“That angle that we had was behind [the ball] and he’s looking from on top, so I don’t know if he could have seen it as clearly as we did,” said PGA Tour rules official Slugger White. “But he could not have been a better gentleman … You could see, the club did get behind the ball closer and then when he took it away, you could see the path of the sand come away in two different occasions.”
White said that Reed accepted the verdict and did not try to argue that there was no intent to improve his lie. “Intent would not matter,” he said.