Patrick Reed defends ruling after his ball got stuck in a tree in Dubai

Mark Barrington Golf

At first it was a tee, now it’s a tree.

It’s been a tough few days online for Patrick Reed. Social media erupted after he tossed a tee Rory McIlroy’s way on the driving range before this week’s DP World Tour stop at the 2023 Hero Dubai Desert Classic. During Sunday’s third round – early-week weather has forced a Monday finish at Emirates Golf Club – Reed found himself in the spotlight once again after a wayward drive on par-4 17th hole.

Reed said he was “100 percent certain” his ball had landed in a tree and got stuck. From here he took a drop, scrambled for bogey, then made birdie on the par-5 18th to sign for a 3-under 69 to reach 11 under for the tournament, four shots off the leader McIlroy.

A golf coach shared video of the drive on Twitter, which called into question whether or not Reed identified the proper ball. If he wasn’t able to identify his ball in the tree and prove it was stuck, Reed would have been forced to walk back and play his third shot form the tee after taking a stroke-and-distance penalty.

“I would have gone back to the tee if I wasn’t 100 percent… I got lucky that we were able to look through the binoculars and you have to make sure it’s your ball and how I mark my golf balls is I always put an arrow on the end of my line, because the Pro VI the arrow on the end stop before it so you can see the arrow,” Reed explained to Telegraph Sport. “And you could definitely see and identify the line with the arrow on the end, and the rules official, luckily, was there to reconfirm and check it to make sure it was mine as well.”

“The only other time I’ve ever been in a tree was in Malaysia. Actually there’s a picture of (Sergio Garcia) and I underneath (caddie Kessler Karain). He’s up literally in the palm tree looking at my golf ball,” Reed added. “You know what, I hit that tee shot, I didn’t even see those palms. I felt like it was on a good line, just left of the green and I guess I just need to be a little more right or a little higher.”

Patrick Reed

Patrick Reed’s caddie climbs over a palm tree to recover the golf ball on the 10th hole during day 2 of the 2014 CIMB Classic at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club on October 31, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images)

“During round three of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, two on-course referees and several marshals identified that Patrick Reed’s ball had become lodged in a specific tree following his tee shot on 17,” said the DP World Tour via a statement. “The DP World Tour chief referee joined the player in the area and asked him to identify his distinctive ball markings. Using binoculars, the chief referee was satisfied that a ball with those markings was lodged in the tree. The player subsequently took an unplayable penalty drop (Rule 19.2c) at the point directly below the ball on the ground. To clarify, the player was not asked to specify the tree but to identify his distinctive ball markings to confirm it was his ball.”

Almost two years ago to the day, Reed was the center of attention for a rules incident at the Farmers Insurance Open, which followed a two-stroke penalty at the 2019 Hero World Challenge.