I don’t watch much live golf (I don’t have Sky), however I did see lots of coverage of golf balls flying into palm trees last weekend. Thursday 26th – Monday 30th January saw some of the world’s top golfers battle it out in the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, played at the Emirates Golf Club, Dubai. Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy were making headlines before a shot had been hit, thanks to Patrick claiming Rory had snubbed him. It must have been a slow news day, as video footage shows Patrick dandering over to Rory’s practice area, exchanging a few words with Harry Diamond, whilst Rory continues with his routine. Yes, Rory didn’t talk to Patrick and, yes, you could go as far to say that it looked like he was ignoring Patrick, but bear in mind that the American’s lawyers served Rory with a court subpoena on Christmas Eve! Patrick’s response was to chuck a LIV-branded tee at the World’s No. 1, which the media made a big deal of, but you had to watch the video footage very carefully to spot it! The press referred to this storm in a tea cup as “teegate”.
It’s no secret that Patrick Reed isn’t very popular! Also, his “interpretation of the rules” has been called into question by commentators and fans on several occasions, so there were lots of spectators cheering on Rory as he battled it out on the fairways. Patrick’s final round of 65 wasn’t good enough to secure victory, as Rory sank a birdie on the final hole to finish one shot ahead and claim his third Dubai Desert Classic title, whilst cementing his position as the World’s No. 1.
It wasn’t without drama though! On Sunday, Patrick was embroiled in controversy when his tee shot on the 17th hole appeared to end up lodged in a palm tree, 30′ above the ground! According to the Rules of Golf, if you can identify your ball, you can declare your ball unplayable and take a penalty drop underneath. If you can’t identify your ball, you must go back and “hit three off the tee”.
According to Patrick’s initial comments after the final round, he could “see and identify” his personal marking on the golf ball—a black line with an arrow on the end—through binoculars. “I got lucky that we were able to look through the binoculars,” he said. “You have to make sure it’s your ball. How I mark my golf balls is I always put an arrow on the end of my line, because on the Pro V1, the arrow on the end stops before it, so you can see the arrow. You could definitely see and identify the line with the arrow on the end. The rules official luckily was there to reconfirm and check it to make sure it was mine as well.”
The DP World Tour released a statement confirming the ruling. According to the Tour, two on-course referees and several marshals identified the tree that Reed hit his ball into, but Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee later questioned their identification with a slow-motion playback.
If you haven’t seen the video of Patrick Reed’s tee shot at 17, here it is. pic.twitter.com/sgnKcLH4Sf
— Brandel Chamblee (@chambleebrandel) January 30, 2023
Chamblee tweeted, “In my view the ball clearly sticks in the first palm tree, which is not the one that Reed said he was 100% sure he found his ball in.” So, it appeared that Patrick Reed identified a ball as his, that couldn’t have been his! The Patrick Reed haters were quick to call him a cheat. The following day Patrick published this tweet:
This is my statement regarding Dubai Desert Classic! Maybe it’s time we get back to playing some golf! Best wishes. pic.twitter.com/sTUHOHzkPF
— Patrick Reed (@PReedGolf) January 31, 2023
You can make up your own mind, however if there’s a lesson to be learned from this episode it’s “make sure you mark your ball uniquely!”
Confession – I “stole” the title for this week’s blog from The Guardian, whose report began “From Teegate to Treegate, to a denouement that was well worth the wait”!