Gary Woodland played with Patrick Reed through rules drama. Here’s what that was like

February 18, 2020

Patrick Reed might be the most polarizing player in golf.

Every sport has their antagonists. Basketball has Draymond Green, football has Richard Sherman and baseball has the entire Houston Astros organization — classic sports archetypes who are scorned by opposing fans yet adored by their own tribe. Reed fills that niche in golf.

In the latest episode of Subpar, a new weekly GOLF.com show hosted by former PGA Tour player Colt Knost and friend Drew Stoltz, Gary Woodland opened up about Reed and the seemingly endless drama that follows him.

The reigning U.S. Open champion was paired with Reed during Reed’s rules imbroglio in the Bahamas in December and was also Reed’s teammate at the Presidents Cup the following week, giving Woodland a front-row seat to the latest chapter in the on-going saga of the most controversial figure in golf.

Woodland broke down the bunker-brushing incident in the Bahamas from his perspective, which happened to be from the green on Albany’s par-5 11th hole. Because Woodland had stuck his approach on 11 to a foot, he walked up to the green and tapped in before Reed had even played his third shot. Woodland said he was talking to NBC/Golf Channel reporter Bones Mackay as Reed prepared to play a delicate 50-yard bunker shot from what was a chopped-up lie.

“He was in a not very good spot,” Woodland said. Reed hit what looked to be an excellent shot about 25 feet right of the hole, but the ball had a touch too much pace and trundled off the back of the green. Still, Woodland was impressed. “Bones and I both said, ‘Wow, that shot was unbelievable from where he was.'”

Woodland said he heard a couple of holes later that there was some question as to whether Reed had grounded his club in the bunker, but that Reed was unaware of any problem until after the round. When Woodland and Reed entered the scoring trailer, officials were examining the incident on a monitor.

“To be honest, he owned it right then and took it,” Woodland said of Reed. “I think if he would’ve just said the same thing [to the media] he said in the scoring trailer to [rules official] Slugger White — ‘I didn’t mean to do that, I wish there was another camera angle to show my intent’ — I think it would’ve been a lot better.”

Reed did speak at length to the press about what he characterized as a misleading camera angle but his defense largely fell on deaf ears.

A week later, Woodland and Reed were teammates at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne, where the Reed controversy was one of the biggest storylines throughout the week and chum for the charged-up Aussie fans. Woodland said the incident did not disrupt the dynamic in the U.S. team room.

“Every team has somebody that you hate the guy if he’s not on your team and you love him if he’s on the team,” Woodland said. “Tiger Woods picked Patrick Reed for a reason — under the gun, you want Patrick on your team. You really do. Whether you like everything that goes on around it or not, you like him on your team.”

Out on the course, though, the drama around Reed escalated on Day 3, when Reed’s caddie and brother-in-law, Kessler Karain, crossed the gallery line and confronted a heckler.

“In my opinion, he was just defending Patrick,” Woodland said. “People were crazy and in their face and he’d had enough of it and unfortunately he got a little physical with somebody.

“I don’t have a problem with anything that happened.”

Woods’ pick eventually paid off. Though Reed played poorly early on, his domination of C.T. Pan in Sunday singles helped fuel a come-from-behind victory for the Americans.

Woodland spoke on many other topics in his hour-long interview, including the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, drinking vodka from the U.S. Open trophy and the best basketball players on Tour. Check out Subpar every Tuesday for more in-depth interviews with golf’s biggest personalities.

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