MELBOURNE (Reuters) – American golfer Patrick Reed has denied cheating in a tournament last week and hit out at International team players for saying he had, as a little edge entered proceedings on Tuesday ahead of the Presidents Cup.
Reed received a two-stroke penalty for improving his lie when he moved sand with his practice swing on Friday at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. The incident has dominated the run up to the biennial contest, which begins on Thursday.
Cameron Smith was quoted in Australian media as saying Reed had been “cheating the rules” and some of his International team mates said the American had exposed himself to some flak from the crowd through his actions.
Former Masters champion Reed fired back at a news conference on Tuesday, saying “cheat” was inaccurate because he had not seen the sand move and the officials concurred that he inadvertently improved his lie.
“It’s not the right word to use,” he said. “If you do something unintentionally that breaks the rules, it’s not considered cheating…
“If you’re intentionally trying to do something, that would be considered cheating, but I wasn’t intentionally trying to improve a lie or anything like that…
“It’s just wrong, it’s just not right.”
United States captain Tiger Woods on Monday said he had spoken to Reed about the incident and was keen to draw a line under it as he looked to extend the Americans’ seven-match winning streak at the Presidents Cup.
The 15-times major champion sank the winning putt the time the contest was last held at Royal Melbourne in 2011, when the Australian crowd was criticized by some Internationals for being over-awed by the Americans.
Reed suspected the row was being used by the Internationals to ensure that did not happen again.
“Of course they are going to speak out, because they want to get their crowds going and get on their side. That’s the name of the game,” he said.
Reed said he hoped any banter with the crowd remained respectful and that the row over his violation had made him more determined to win.
“It goes from wanting to beat those guys to it now turning personal, so it’s going to be a fun week,” he said.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by Christopher Cushing)