It’s been an incredible golf season already and it’s only mid-March. Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational was the most exhilarating day on the PGA Tour this year. Rory McIlroy torched Bay Hill to the ground for his first win in 18 months. Tiger Woods looked like the Tiger of old, putting fear in the rest of the leaderboard and executing shots with a strut we haven’t seen in years.
There was so much to process. But we can’t overlook one of the spiciest moments that came out of the round. Late Sunday night, a heroic citizen journalist posted video of Patrick Reed in a contretemps with a PGA Tour rules official. It is Reed doing what he’s been put on this Earth to do: getting prickly on a golf course. Sometimes that approach to life yields greatness, other times ignominy.
The moment takes place behind the 11th green, where Reed would eventually make a double bogey. He’s looking for a drop due to the cables from a TV tower allegedly obstructing his stance and/or play from the junk behind the green. The official disagreed (h/t DJ Piehowski on the video).
There’s so much good stuff in here. It’s a work of art and here are my five favorite turns in this short film.
1. “Unbiased source”
I don’t know what this means but it’s peak Reed. It was said with such bite yet has little substance behind it.
Who is biased against him here? This particular official? What biases does the official have on this matter? Maybe Reed has been watching too much cable news, but I love that he crowbarred that into the end of the discussion as he asked for a third opinion.
2. Justine Reed
Our citizen journalist hero indicated on Twitter the woman’s voice in the background stating “Anyone else would get a drop out of there any day of the week” is Reed’s wife, Justine. That’s not surprising. She knows the game, used to be his caddie, and is almost always on the ground at these events walking close by on the rope line. If it’s her, I love that she had to jump in the fray to toss her own barb at the official. It also seemed to provoke this line from Patrick ...
3. A double decker bus running over Jordan Spieth
Jordan Spieth wasn’t even in Orlando at this tournament this week. He once went through a complicated drop process at the British Open, but it was deemed by all parties as proper and legal relief. Spieth had nothing to do with this moment.
But Reed offered up his Ryder Cup partner as a sacrificial Golden Child to try and make some larger point within the argument. It was directed to the entire group of onlookers as some sort of passive-aggressive joke. I imagine this will be the line most folks discuss and which might prompt a sit-down between the two in Austin this week at the WGC Match Play.
4. “That’s fine.”
The disagreement became most tense when the official had just had enough and said, “Play away, Patrick.” That may have caught Reed off guard — the official was done with this discussion and was moving on.
Reed’s immediate response was a caustic “That’s fine.” I gotta say, it really didn’t seem fine with him.
5. The PGA Tour mobile phone policy
We’ve heard some complaints about the updated PGA Tour mobile phone policy. There’s always one idiot or two who forgets to silence their phone. But the payoff has been demonstrable, including hundreds of fan videos of incredible moments (like Spieth’s hole-out bunker shot in Hartford) that the Tour aggregates. This kind of video is also a huge benefit, although not one the Tour probably wants. We the people will occasionally get an up-close view of a rules issue or a dispute or some sort of chicanery that’s well out of view of the TV cameras. All hail the mobile phone policy.
I imagine we’re not done hearing about the Spieth line, which will make this a news item (as opposed to the artwork that is the entire exchange and this here writer felt obligated to blog).
Reed can be a combative player. His career, from juniors on up, is marked with drama and relationships that have iced over. But he’s not necessarily wrong for being miffed here. We’re in an era of generous rulings and the cable and tower did seem to be an issue. It’s understandable he was frustrated. The way he articulated that frustration is what made this so entertaining and we’re lucky a fan was there to add it to the canon.