Two swings essentially cost Patrick Reed a spot alongside Rory McIlroy in the last group for Monday’s final round of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.
Both resulted in unplayables, at the sixth and 17th holes, as Reed settled for a 3-under 69 and now find himself in a logjam at 11 under and four shots back of McIlroy.
“A little frustrating,” Reed told reporters afterward. “Felt like I actually hit the ball a little better today. Had one loose swing there on 8 that made me take an unplayable. But then I got on 17, I felt like I hit a perfect drive, looking at the line I was looking at. If anything, I was hoping it might have been a hair more right. I hit it so solid, might just go through [the fairway], next thing you know, we find it in the palm tree.”
Unlike the par-4 eighth hole, where Reed yanked his drive well left and ended up carding double bogey, he appeared to have cut the corner nicely at the dogleg-right, par-4 17th. But what could’ve been a 40-yard pitch or so for his second shot turned into a 50-yard third shot from the rough; television cameras showed Reed’s drive hitting one of a cluster of palm trees and not coming down.
While Golf Digest pointed out that there were “perhaps four or five other balls stuck in the same tree,” Reed was able to identify his ball using binoculars.
“You have to make sure it’s your ball,” Reed told Golf Digest. “How I mark my golf balls is I always put an arrow on the end of my line, because [on] the Pro VI, 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.”
Reed then added: “I would have gone back to the tee if I wasn’t 100%.”
DP World Tour officials also provided a statement to Golf Digest: “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. 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.”
Reed was afforded a penalty drop from a spot directly under the part of the tree where the ball was lodged, and he went on to make bogey.
“It was an unfortunate break there, but at the end of the day, I felt like I rebounded really well,” said Reed, who birdied each of the next two holes after his double and then the par-5 finishing hole. “Whenever I got in trouble there, made double on 8 and bounced back with two birdies and same thing there on 17. … You’re going to get bad breaks once in a while. You just have to bounce back from them.”
Reed, now ranked No. 90 in the Official World Golf Ranking, is coming off a missed cut in Abu Dhabi and hasn’t won worldwide since the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open. He began this week by getting involved in a little controversy with McIlroy and a golf tee.
Now, he’s got a chance to track down McIlroy and deny him the title in Dubai.
But partly thanks to a bigger piece of wood, he’ll just have to do so from a group ahead.