Patrick Reed employs clever use of the rules late in final round of Sentry Tournament of Champions

January 6, 2020

Patrick Reed’s last few weeks have been marred by a rules controversy that happened at the Hero World Challenge, but at the Sentry Tournament of Champions on Sunday he was applauded for how he used the rules to his advantage.

Reed was chasing leader Justin Thomas on the back nine and was inching closer when he found the fringe of the green on the par-5 15th hole in 2. But when it was time for Reed to play his third shot — an eagle would have tied Thomas — the Golf Channel broadcast brought in on-course reporter Curt Byrum to break down the situation.

“Here’s what happened,” Byrum said. “He has lift, clean and place. He was going to putt through about six feet of fringe, so with lift, clean and place it moved it closer to what I think is a valve cover right there. So then he was able to take relief from the valve cover, now he’s sitting two inches from the green, which eliminates a lot of the question mark as far as what it would do coming out of the fringe.”

Byrum added that Reed brought in PGA Tour rules official John Munch to clarify the play. The slight change actually made Reed’s putt easier, according to the broadcast.

“He has a great look for eagle here,” Byrum continued. “It’s straighter, and it’s not going to be as quick because he’s putting a little bit back into the breeze as well. Just everything about it, it’s so makeable, especially for a guy putting this well.”

Mark Rolfing chimed in, too, bringing up Reed’s recent rules controversy but making sure to praise Reed for this particular move.

“You know, we have been talking Patrick Reed and rules being joined at the hip for really the last six weeks, but that was really using the rules to your advantage,” Rolfing said. “Everybody thinks sometimes the rules work against you, but they also can work to your advantage, and that was a great example there. What he did was absolutely correct.”

Reed missed the eagle putt and made birdie, his third straight, to get within one of Thomas. Ironically it was also on the 15th hole on Friday where Reed had another rules situation. But after finally tracking down his second shot it was deemed a volunteer caused it to move and he was not penalized.

Added analyst Paul Azinger on Friday, after the incident: “It’s pretty important for Patrick Reed to get it right at this point in his career and he’s going to have to get it right for a long time to come. We’re going to watch him like a hawk with the cameras.”

At the Hero in December, Reed was penalized for improving his lie when two backswings from a waste bunker moved sand. It was a major topic the following week at the Presidents Cup, where fans let Reed hear about it and where Reed gave it right back to the fans by making his own shoveling gesture.

Reed closed the Sentry Tournament of Champions with a seven-under 66 but lost in a playoff to Justin Thomas.