Presidents Cup: Tiger Woods backs Patrick Reed to deliver amid claims of cheating
Team USA captain insists Reed 'will be fine', but Louis Oosthuizen adds to chorus of criticism for sand penalty incident
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 10/12/19 6:59pm
Tiger Woods and his American team have rallied around Patrick Reed ahead of this week's Presidents Cup, although many in the Internationals side have been less sympathetic with their opinions on the controversy in the Bahamas.
Reed has been widely criticised for his antics in the sand during the third round of the Hero World Challenge, when he was hit with a two-shot penalty for appearing to improve his lie before playing his shot.
The former Masters champion denied accusations of cheating and insisted he had been harshly judged by a deceptive camera angle following the infringement which ultimately proved costly as he finished two strokes adrift of Henrik Stenson.
But Cameron Smith, who makes his Presidents Cup debut in Melbourne this week, did not hold back with his opinion on the incident, dismissing Reed's claims and going on to say: "I know Pat pretty good and he's always been nice to me, so I don't want to say anything bad about him. But anyone's cheating the rules, I'm not up for that."
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Marc Leishman also offered a forthright view on Reed's behaviour, while Louis Oosthuizen concurred with the popular opinion that Reed is likely to be given a tough time by the spectators at Royal Melbourne this week.
"I think he's going to have a tough time," said the South African. "I mean, it looked like a very stupid thing he did. It doesn't look great for him, I can say that. It's going to be a tough one to get rid of."
Asked if Reed should admit his wrongdoing and apologise, Oosthuizen added: "That's going to be all on him what he really feels inside what he did. I mean, obviously it looks bad from the outside. It does not look great.
"If it was someone on my team, I know a bunch of us would ask him straight the question, and then probably take it from there."
But Team USA captain Woods insisted that Reed's performance would not be affected by the wave of negativity generated by the incident, a view backed up by his team-mates.
"I think Pat will be fine, he is a great kid," said Woods. "He's handled a tough upbringing well, and I just think that he's one of our best team players and is one of the reasons why all of the guys wanted him on the team."
American debutant Xander Schauffele added: "Everyone's going to give him the benefit of the doubt, and nobody is here to stir the pot. He got penalised for what he did and no one's really said anything about it, so I don't think it's a very big deal, in all honesty.
"Patrick is a competitor and he's been in a situation like this before where he's taken some heat and the guy just feeds off of it. I don't know how he does it, and I don't think I would be as comfortable doing it.
"He just does his thing. He's honest to himself to where he can just play golf no matter what, through the fire, through the flame, call it whatever you want. I'm assuming he'll get heckled. I think he's ready for it. He knows it."
Justin Thomas made light of the incident and was videoed joking about Reed's bunker technique during a practice round ahead of the competition, and he claimed the American team will not be distracted by the fallout.
"Patrick is a great team player and he's always wanted to win points for the team," said Thomas. "So I think the only way it could become a distraction is what the headlines are and how much we read into it.
"We're not here to read articles and get into this or that. We are here to try to win points for the US team in the Presidents Cup. I'm sure we could make it a distraction if we wanted to, but I would hope that all of us are not too worried about it.
"It's in the past. And I understand it's going to be something that continues to get brought up, but none of us worry about it. It's a weird deal, but like anything, in a couple weeks it's going to blow over."