Patrick Reed given two shot penalty for improving bunker lie at Hero World Challenge


Patrick Reed was given a two shot penalty for improving his 'intended line of play' in a waste bunker during the third round of the Hero World Challenge

Patrick Reed found himself at the centre of a rules controversy during Friday's third round at the Hero World Challenge after he was caught by cameras appearing to flatten out and improve his lie in a waste bunker on the 11th hole at Albany Golf Club.

Reed, who had started the third round with a three stroke lead, found the waste bunker off the tee and was subsequently caught moving sand away from his ball with his club during two practice swings. 

He went on to make his first bogey of the day, but was ushered in to a room following the completion of his third round and was handed a two-stroke penalty, giving him an eight at that hole. 

Under the new rules, you are allowed to ground your club (Rule 8.1), but you cannot improve your lie, which Reed was adjudged to have done in this instance by dragging the sand away.

And while he accepted the penalty, Reed made it clear he felt a different camera angle would have shown he hadn't improved his lie.

“I think with a different camera angle they would have realized that if it was from the side you would have seen that with the backswing it was not improving the lie because it was far enough away from the golf ball,” Reed said.

"But after seeing that camera angle, because it brushed the sand it was a penalty.

“I told [White] it wasn’t intent and that I was far enough away from the ball, but because they didn’t have another angle, they can’t say anything either way. At the end of the day, because of where the camera angle was, they felt like it might have been improving the lie.

In his explanation, Reed said that his ball was situated in a footprint, which is why the cameras didn't give a full view of the lie. 

“It’s unfortunate because even though they weren’t, I wish [the cameras] were actually directly on the side of me, because it was in a pretty good footprint but the footprint was a full footprint,” Reed said.

“I felt like — I mean, my club was that far behind the ball when I was actually taking the practice stroke, which I felt like I was taking it up and it was — obviously, it was hitting a little sand. I didn’t feel it drag.

“I didn’t feel like it really would have affected my lie, I mean every time I get in the bunker I’m scared to even get my club close to it, it was that far away, but whenever you do that if it does hit the sand, just like if you’re in a hazard area and you take a practice swing and it brushes grass and the grass breaks, it’s a penalty. So because of that and after seeing the video, I accept that, and it wasn’t because of any intent, I thought I was far enough away.

"At the end of the day you gotta let things roll of your shoulders. Also at the same time, I have another whole round to play tomorrow.

"If I stew over something that I felt like I didn’t intentionally do, at the end of the day it’s my word versus their word. They weren’t standing there, they had a camera angle. Because of that, you don’t really have a choice.

"It's my word against their word. They weren't standing there."

Rules official Slugger White said that the intent of Reed's actions didn't matter as he described the incident, but did later conclude Reed was graceful in accepting the penalty.

"You could see the path of the sand come away on two different occasions," he said.

"He did it the first time, put the club down again and did it another time. Intent would not matter here.

"He could not have been more of a gentleman,” White added. “He was unbelievable. He said — he had a different look at it. The angle that we had was behind and he’s looking from on top, so he may not have — I don’t know if he could have seen it as clearly as we did, but he could not have been a better gentleman.”