PRES­I­DENTS CUP GOLF Cap­tain Woods de­fends Reed af­ter rule-break­ing trou­ble

Muscat Daily - - SPORTS -

Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia - US cap­tain Tiger Woods de­fended Pres­i­dents Cup team­mate Patrick Reed as 'a great kid' on Tues­day af­ter he was pe­nalised for break­ing the rules in the Ba­hamas, while at­tempt­ing to draw a line un­der the con­tro­versy.

For­mer US Masters cham­pion Reed was given a two-shot penalty for im­prov­ing his lie in a waste bunker dur­ing the third round of the Hero World Chal­lenge on Fri­day.

His ac­tions were blasted by two of the In­ter­na­tional side pre­par­ing to face the Woods-led US in the team match­play show­down at Royal Mel­bourne this week, po­ten­tially open­ing the door for some bar­rack­ing by Aus­tralian fans.

Cameron Smith told re­porters at the week­end he had 'no sym­pa­thy for any­one that cheats' while Marc Leish­man called his be­hav­iour 'pretty or­di­nary'.

Woods was keen to move on from the row when pressed in Mel­bourne, ad­mit­ting the two dis­cussed the mat­ter on the long plane trip to Aus­tralia from the Ba­hamas but it was now over.

"It was not a lengthy con­ver­sa­tion. Pat and I are very good friends. We kept it short and brief, to the point," said Woods, who is the first play­ing cap­tain at the Pres­i­dents Cup since Amer­i­can Hale Ir­win in 1994.

"The rules of­fi­cial gave him two shots. He fin­ished at 16-un­der, two back of Hen­rik (Sten­son), and now we're on to this week."

I'm no cheat, says Reed

Reed ac­knowl­edged that he moved sand with both prac­tice swings and there­fore vi­o­lated the rules, but de­nied on Tues­day he was a cheat. "It's not the right word to use," he said.

"At the end of the day, if you do some­thing un­in­ten­tion­ally that breaks the rules, it's not con­sid­ered cheat­ing and at the end of the day that's what it is."

De­spite the prospect of a volatile re­cep­tion in Mel­bourne, Woods in­sisted Reed would be 'fine' when the tour­na­ment be­gins on Thurs­day.

"Pat is a great kid. He's han­dled a tough up­bring­ing well, and I just think that he's one of our best team play­ers and is one of the rea­sons why all of the guys wanted him on the team," he said.

‘These guys are com­peti­tors’

In­ter­na­tional team cap­tain Ernie Els said he had no prob­lem with Smith and Leish­man be­ing out­spo­ken on Reed, keen to take any edge they can into the tour­na­ment. "Well, I think it's only nat­u­ral. These guys are com­peti­tors. Ob­vi­ously they didn't like what they saw," he said.

But Els added: "Like Tiger, we're mov­ing on; we've got a

Cup to play for. "It's got noth­ing to do with us. It's ba­si­cally what's hap­pened, and I think Tiger's deal­ing with it and Patrick's deal­ing with that.

"We're get­ting ready to play the Pres­i­dents Cup. There's noth­ing more to be said."

The In­ter­na­tional team will need to use ev­ery­thing in its ar­se­nal to un­set­tle Woods' star-stud­ded team, which is the heavy favourite to win.

It has clinched all but one edi­tion of the Pres­i­dents Cup in its 25-year history.

The ex­cep­tion was at Royal Mel­bourne in 1998, where a young Woods played. He ad­mit­ted the team then was not prop­erly pre­pared, in con­trast to now.

"I think our strength is that we are a very deep team. The guys have played well this en­tire year, and you know, we had 11 out of 12 guys play last week," said Woods. "So it was nice for them to shake off some rust. Get a feel for things.

"To­day is an im­por­tant day for us to just walk and to stretch our legs a bit," he added.

(AFP)

US cap­tain Tiger Woods (left) watches team­mate Patrick Reed dur­ing a Pres­i­dents Cup prac­tice round in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia, on Tues­day

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