Patrick Reed in new rules controversy around ball stuck in tree

Patrick Reed is involved in yet another rules controversy after the American said he was “100 percent” certain that it was ball lodged up a tree, while TV replays seemed to suggest that the ball had, in fact, come to rest up another palm during the third round of the Dubai Desert Classic.

Predictably, social media was in uproar after the incident, which featured Reed peering through binoculars up into the branches and assuring the referee that he was sure it was his ball lodged there because of its distinctive markings.

The rules of golf dictate that, if Reed were in any doubt about whether or not it was his ball, he would have to take a stroke and distance penalty and play three off the tee. As it was, Reed was allowed to take a one-shot penalty drop adjacent to the tree and escaped with a bogey five. 

Reed proceeded to birdie the 18th for 69 and an 11-under total, in a tie for fourth, four behind leader Rory McIlroy going into Monday’s final round. 

Reed and McIlroy have been embroiled in a bust-up all week at the Emirates Golf Club, after McIlroy refused to acknowledge the LIV Golf rebel, whose lawyers served the world No 1 with a court summons on Christmas Eve. Reed reacted to Rory’s snub by flicking a LIV-branded tee peg at his feet. 

As one wag put it, Reed’s week has gone from “Teegate” to “Treegate”.

When asked by Telegraph Sport, Reed was unequivocal that this was his ball. “100 percent,” he said. “I would have gone back to the tee if I wasn’t 100 percent… I got lucky that we were able to look through the binoculars and you have to make sure it’s your ball and how I mark my golf balls is I always put an arrow on the end of my line, because the Pro VI the arrow on the end stop before it so you can see the arrow. 

“And you could definitely see and identify the line with the arrow on the end, and the rules official, luckily, was there to reconfirm and check it to make sure it was mine as well.”

Reed is no stranger to rules rumpuses. Three years ago, he was penalised two strokes for deliberately improving his lie in a bunker – a charge he still denies. And in 2021 he was at centre of another social media storm when he picked up the ball to check if it was embedded, despite the fact that TV showed it skipping forward. 

The DP World Tour has been asked for comment.

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