Larry Canning: Are golf fans taking the constant Patrick Reed verbal bashing a fairway too far?

Larry CanningTO say I don’t have a lot of respect for the individuals who use the safety of a gallery rope or a cooperate box to hurl abuse at professional sports people while they are competing would be akin to me suggesting I’m not exactly a fan of filthy thieves plundering fire evacuees homes.

Spectators who yell crap at a player knowing they are clearly not in a position to hurl back, are flat out gutless. Sure you might have your spineless act captured on TV and have the limelight for a few embarrassing moments and if that’s what tickles your Titleists, then, “whatever”, I guess. Bottom line for me – If you don’t have the pills to confront the person face to face on your own, then crawl back into the nearest bunker.          

Having spent five days at the Presidents Cup listening to mostly really bad attempts at humour from these heroes, I feel like an expert now on this subject. Do people on the 14th green on Saturday really think we haven’t heard “Get in the bunker” when Reed makes contact with the ball? “Mr Sand Man” was nearly funny on the second hole on Thursday but by the time it got to Sundays back nine… Shut up!

Presidents Cup crowd
The “Reed Excavations” crew were making an obvious point at Royal Melbourne during the 2019 Presidents Cup

Having said that, there was a couple of funny moments. The first hole for the  tournament was a drivable par 4 and most players were having a crack (particularly in fourball format). From the tee you can’t see the green so the organisers whacked a huge TV screen next to the tee so us punters could watch the result of the drives. Reed’s tee shot was a bloody ripper straight at the green but sadly for him, and to the delight of the crowd, it took a bad bounce to the right in the direction of the greenside bunker. As the ball slowly rolled towards the sand the crowd became louder until it finally dribbled in. They went absolutely nuts! Everyone saw the irony of Reed’s second shot of the event being from the sand and the reaction by thousands watching was gold.

On the 12th green on Friday’s foursomes, I happened to be standing right near Marc Leishman as he was waiting for his opponents trying to find a way to extricate their ball from under a tee tree when a fan next to me quietly said, “Keep an eye on him in there Leish”. Marc turned round and laughed along with the rest of us within earshot.

Hey! what about this – rumour has it the sometimes annoying but sometimes funny “Fanatics” group were contacted by the event organisers and offered some nice incentives to leave Patrick Reed alone. As you can imagine, being one the most respected amateur golf journalists in Mittagong… I can’t divulge my sources.

Fast forward to January … After that brave dip-stick yelled “Cheater!” when Reed missed his attempt to stay in the Play-off during the first event of 2020, two scenarios became pretty clear. One – Patrick Reed is clearly not suffering any post traumatic effects of “cheating scandal syndrome” and is playing as well as anyone on tour. Two – this crap isn’t going away soon! And I’m talking years…

I’m clearly not one for the ongoing verbal Reed bashing but after the PGA Tour officials took the side of Reed with their lame 2 shot penalty for “Accidentally” putting his wedge in behind the ball and pushing roughly half a ton of sand away … TWICE!, how are the rest of us who value the game’s unique stance on honesty and integrity supposed to react?

Cheating is one thing but having it excused by the people in charge of the biggest PGA Tour in the world takes it to another level. Golfers from all over the world saw it and have made up their minds.

By blasting Reed seemingly every time he tees it up in a tournament are the fans also showing their disapproval of the PGA Tour officials for allowing this bloke to get away with it? I’d love to hear some opinions from some of the lads on the US PGA committee on the stance their Tour colleagues have chosen on this.

For me, the game I love and have dedicated myself to since I was a skinny kid changed a little bit that day I saw Reed’s infraction and the feeble ramifications from one the game’s protecting bodies.

God knows what the kids of today made of it. I guess we’ll see in the years to come.


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