Patrick Reed blames marshals, rules officials for tree lost-ball ruling, confusion at Dubai Desert Classic
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Patrick Reed blames marshals, rules officials for tree lost-ball ruling, confusion at Dubai Desert Classic

A picture of golfer Patrick Reed Credit: Getty Images

Patrick Reed has spoken up now two days removed from hitting his ball into a palm tree and receiving a controversial ruling in his favor at the 2023 Dubai Desert Classic. In short, Reed said the whole situation was not controversial and pinned DP World Tour officials and marshals for him looking up the wrong tree to find his ball.

During the delayed Sunday third round at Emirates Golf Club, Reed's drive on the 17th hole got stuck in one of three palm trees in a cluster at the turning point of the short, dogleg par 4. Reed arrived to the ball and worked with DP World Tour officials and marshals to identify his ball in one of the trees in the cluster. However, TV cameras showed the ball flying into and getting stuck in a different tree than Reed and the rules officials were searching with binoculars.

Reed was asked to describe the distinctive markings on his ball that would allow him to positively identify the ball in the tree, thus entitling him to take an unplayable lie directly underneath the ball's vertical location with a one-stroke penalty -- rather than facing a stroke-and-distance penalty. Reed said he saw "the black arrow" on his ball, and the officials were satisfied with his description, allowing him to take the unplayable and make a bogey. Reed ultimately came up one shot short against Rory McIlroy, who won his third Dubai Desert Classic title and first Rolex Series event.

In his statement, written in a text-messaging app and posted via screenshot to his social channels, Reed said:

"Some people love controversy. 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 distinctive markings on the ball I was playing.

"I am looking forward to this week's Asian Tour Flagship event at Royal Greens."

However, Reed's statement doesn't clarify why he said he could positively identify his ball with distinctive markings what appeared to be the wrong tree. Under the Rules of Golf, Reed is in the clear for a bad ruling from the officials because they positively agreed to his interpretation of the Rules and the process he used to identify the ball he said was his.

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Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is a scratch golfer...sometimes.

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