Patrick Reed fires back at Dubai tree controversy: ‘Non-issue’

Patrick Reed has fired back at critics after finding himself embroiled in yet another controversy.

The 32-year-old former Masters champ and current LIV Golf member has spoken out about the ‘tree gate’ incident Sunday at the Dubai Desert Classic, where during the third round his tee shot on the par-4 17th hole at Emirates Golf Club landed in a palm tree and set off a series of chaotic events.

Under the Rules of Golf, if a ball gets stuck in a tree and a player can identify the ball, a player may take an unplayable drop with a one-stroke penalty, rather than having to return to the tee for a lost ball. Reed said after his round that he could “see and identify” his ball by his marking on it — a black line with an arrow — through binoculars. The DP World Tour released a statement confirming the ruling after two on-course officials and multiple marshals had also pointed out the tree the ball had apparently landed in, saying, that “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” and that “the DP World Tour chief referee joined the player in the area and asked him to identify his distinctive ball markings,” noting that the chief referee was “satisfied that a ball with those markings was lodged in the tree.”

But according to video replays, the wrong tree was apparently identified, with Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee also suggesting it would have been difficult for Reed to identify the ball and that the wrong tree was likely identified.

Patrick Reed
Getty Images

Patrick Reed of the U.S. prepares for a shot on the 16th hole during the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic.

“When we zoom out and you see in these palm fronds, there are scores of golf balls in there,” Chamblee said. “Since most professional golfers predominantly play Titleist Pro V1s, it’s reasonable to assume it’s littered with Pro V1s in there.”

Tuesday, Reed hit back in the wake of the incident.

“Some people love controversy,” Reed tweeted. “But what happened on the 17th hole at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic was a non-issue. As the DP World Tour confirmed, I was not asked to identify the tree my ball struck (that was done by the ShotLink volunteers and several marshals), I was asked to describe the distinct markings on the ball I was playing.”

He also added that “maybe it’s time we get back to playing some golf!”

The statement comes a week after Reed found himself at the center of another controversy dubbed “tee gate” after he was ignored by Rory McIlroy on the driving range earlier in the week and flicked a tee at him as he walked away from the Northern Irishman.

Rory McIlroy, left, and Patrick Reed
Getty Images

“It was kind of a funny shot back,” Reed said of that incident. “[It is] funny how a small little flick has turned into basically me stabbing him and throwing a tee at him. … He saw me and he decided not to react.

“It’s unfortunate but it is one of those things — if you’re going to act like an immature little child then you might as well be treated like one.”

McIlroy has been outspoken against the controversial Saudi-backed LIV circuit since its inception, as has Chamblee. Other golfers also poked fun at the tee incident.

Reed is currently suing Chamblee and the Golf Channel for defamation, seeking $750 million in damages over claims that the analyst tried to “destroy” his reputation and create “hate, and a hostile work environment.” McIlroy, meanwhile, revealed last week that he received a subpoena from Reed’s legal team on Christmas Eve in relation to another lawsuit that involves Reed’s attorney, Larry Klayman, against the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.

Reed’s initial lawsuit against Golf Channel and Chamblee was tossed by a federal judge from a Florida court in November of last year, but done so without prejudice and an amended complaint has since been filed.

Patrick Reed tees off on the eighth hole during the third round of the Dubai Desert Classic.
Patrick Reed tees off on the eighth hole at Emirates Golf Club during the third round of the Dubai Desert Classic.
Getty Images

Rory McIlroy defeated Patrick Reed by a stroke in Dubai on Monday.
Rory McIlroy defeated Patrick Reed by a stroke in Dubai on Monday.
Getty Images

McIlroy went on to make a 14-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to win in Dubai, finishing one shot clear of Reed.