The incident dominated discussion over the weekend.
Patrick Reed secured his ninth PGA Tour victory on Sunday as he cruised to a five-stroke win at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
It was an impressive final-round performance by Reed, who carded a composed 68 to finish five shots ahead of a quintet of joint runners-up: Tony Finau, Henrik Norlander, Ryan Palmer, Xander Schauffele and Viktor Hovland.
Of course, the discussion around Reed did not centre on the quality of the 2018 Masters winner’s golf over the weekend.
Instead, the focus was very much on the controversial drop from which he benefitted during Saturday’s third round.
Patrick Reed drop controversy.
At the 10th hole, Reed pulled his approach shot into thick rough. When he arrived at his ball, he asked a nearby volunteer had she seen the ball bounce before it settled in the rough.
After the volunteer said she had not seen the ball bounce, Reed picked up the ball after determining that it had embedded.
The full exchange as Patrick Reed takes embedded ball relief on No. 10. pic.twitter.com/gSPH6PrAoW
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 30, 2021
Then, having received confirmation from PGA Tour rules official Brad Fabel that he was entitled to a free drop, Reed proceeded to make par.
Rory McIlroy was involved in a similar scenario during his round on Saturday with the PGA Tour releasing a statement to confirm they were happy with how both the Northern Irishman and Reed handled their respective situations.
In 2019, Reed was handed a two-stroke penalty for improving his lie in the sand during the Hero World Challenge event.
Player thoughts comin’ in hot! pic.twitter.com/kyEl5J6vHc
— Josh Berhow (@Josh_Berhow) January 31, 2021
PGA Tour players react
And while Reed escaped a similar punishment at Torrey Pines, it seems as though some of his fellow competitors would have handled the situation differently had they been in his shoes.
“I mean, it’s tough,” said Lanto Griffin, who finished six shots adrift of Reed.
“Golf’s a game of sportsmanship, and it’s tough to put us in the spot to call him out because we weren’t there.
“But at the end of the day, I think 99 percent of the golfers out here, if it’s in question one way or the other, they’re going to go the other way, not taking a drop, it didn’t cross [a penalty line], that type of deal.
“So it’s tough to see. It’s sad, kind of pisses us off, but it’s the way it is. Hopefully, something changes and come to a conclusion.
Xander Schauffele on Patrick Reed.
Schauffele echoed Griffin’s comments by saying that he would not have picked up the ball before calling a rules official.
“I would not put myself and create a situation like that,” said world number four Schauffele.
“That’s kind of — I wouldn’t. If my ball’s embedded, I usually will wait and call someone and kind of wait until everyone’s on the same page, wait to look at video. So I try to avoid situations like that just for that reason.
“I would not put myself – and create a situation like that… obviously the talk amongst the boys isn’t great.”
Xander Schauffele was asked about the Patrick Reed controversy after his round.
Says he’d wait for an official before lifting the ball, unlike what Reed did Saturday. pic.twitter.com/GXnucipx5A
— Darnay Tripp (@DarnayTripp) February 1, 2021
“You can put a tee in the ground and check your ball.
“I mean, he did everything by the book according to the official and everyone stood by there. Obviously, the talk amongst the boys isn’t great, I guess, but he’s protected by the Tour and that’s all that matters, I guess.”
Tony Finau, however, saw nothing wrong with how Reed handled the situation.
“At the present time, the circumstances they were in, I think all the procedures that they went through were proper,” said Finau.
“The official deemed that it was an embedded golf ball, so he took his club length and took relief.”