Patrick Reed attacks a week of controversy at Mexico Championship with play (and headphones)

February 23, 2020
Patrick Reed hits a shot from the bunker on the 18th hole on Saturday.

After a week of noise, Patrick Reed put on his headphones.

A “sand castles” quip from fellow pro Brooks Koepka. An accusation of multiple instances of cheating from former CBS broadcaster Peter Kostis. Both in reaction to a rules infraction in a bunker last December at the Hero World Challenge. Reed just turned on the music at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship.

“The biggest thing for me is any time you go to the golf course, pop in my headphones, get to work, and just really get in tune with every golf shot I hit because at the end of the day, you can’t listen to what other people are saying — all you can control is what you do,” Reed said.

“For me, I just go out there and try to play the best golf I can, try to improve on and off the golf course each and every day, and if I feel like I’m doing that, then I’m living the right way and I’m working as hard as I need to be working.”

Something smooth is pumping into his head.

Reed fired a 4-under 67 in the third round Saturday, following rounds of 69 and 63, to sit in a tie for second, one shot behind leader Justin Thomas, entering Sunday’s final round. Interestingly, perhaps his most testing shots came from the site of where some of the conversation began — the sand.

Standing deep in the bunker at the par-4 16th, Reed lofted his third shot to 7 inches of the cup to save par. Then, holding a share of the lead entering the 18th after Thomas bogeyed the final hole in the group ahead of him, Reed again stood in a bunker, though this time his third shot was partially deflected by the sand on the way out and came up a bit short, leading to a bogey of his own.

“The good thing is, I was able to get it around the golf course, get it in the right spots to give myself a chance for birdie,” Reed said. “Yeah, just tighten it up a little bit more tomorrow, and the great thing is I’m in good position going into tomorrow, and that’s all I can ask for.”

Sunday caps an eventful week, to say the least.

On Monday, SiriusXM host Sway Calloway hosted a “special town hall broadcast” in Oakland in which he asked Koepka, among other things, whether Reed cheated.

“Uh, yeah. I think, yeah — yeah,” he responded. “I mean, I don’t know what he was doing, building sand castles in the sand, but, you know, you know where your club is. I mean, I took three months off and I can promise you I know if I touched sand.

“It’s one of those things where you know. If you look at the video, obviously he grazes the sand twice and then he still chops down on it.”

Kostis added on, saying on the No Laying Up podcast he’s seen multiple instances of Reed committing similar rules violations.

“I’ve seen Patrick Reed improve his lie, up close and personal, four times now,” Kostis said, before explaining one of the situations, which happened in 2016, when Reed won The Barclays at Bethpage Black. “That’s the only time I ever shut [Gary] McCord up. He didn’t know what to say, when I said, ‘Well, the lie that I saw originally wouldn’t have allowed for this shot.’ Cause he put four or five clubs behind the ball, kinda faking whether or not he was going to hit this shot or that shot. By the time he was done, he hit a freaking 3-wood out of there. It was a sand wedge lay-up originally.”

Reed’s rules fiasco ignited the golf world in December, when he was assessed a two-stroke penalty for improving his lie in a waste area at the Hero World Challenge. The ruling came after Golf Channel cameras captured Reed brushing away sand from behind his ball with two practice swings. Reed accepted the penalty and argued his actions were accidental.

After the first round Thursday, Reed said he was focused just on his play. 

“I said what I have to say about what happened in the Bahamas,” Reed said, “and at the end of the day, all I’m trying to do is go out and play good golf and trying to win a golf championship.”

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