Who said the Presidents Cup was dead?
The simmering tension between Australia’s Cameron Smith and American villain Patrick Reed showed no signs of cooling Thursday after eagle-eyed witnesses saw the pair clash in a spirited exchange during the opening four-ball matches.
Smith, who’s been very vocal in his criticism towards Reed after the American was hit with a two-shot penalty for improving his line of play in a bunker at last week’s Hero World Challenge, was surprisingly left out of today’s matches by Internationals captain Ernie Els, and was standing behind Royal Melbourne’s fifth green supporting his teammates when his nemesis hit up to the 135-metre par 3.
Left disappointed that a fiery showdown between the two hadn’t eventuated, fans greenside got what they paid for when they spotted Reed, after draining a crucial birdie putt to halve the hole, making a beeline straight to the sixth tee via Smith. While no words were exchanged between the two players, they were seen “deliberately” bumping into each other in a clash of shoulders, with one witness referring to it as a “love tap” that drew a wry grin from Smith.
Tensions had been brewing since the Australian Open when Smith told Evin Priest of the Australian Associated Press: “I don’t have any sympathy for anyone that cheats. I hope the crowd absolutely gives it to not only (Reed), but everyone [on the American team] next week.”
He followed that up on Wednesday with confirmation that any relationship between the two was all but over. “I think there is a little bit of tension there,” said Smith. “I’ve looked at Patrick a couple times but he hasn’t looked back. I’m looking forward to the weekend,” he said
“I definitely won’t go out of my way (to talk to him). I think our friendship, I guess, is not quite there anymore.”
Reed was in a waste bunker at last week’s event in Albany when he found his ball in a depression in the sand as he prepared to play his third shot on the par-5 11th hole. In the process of taking two practice swings, Reed moved sand from behind the ball.
Though a player is allowed to ground his club in the sand, the moving of sand from behind the ball violated Rule 8.1a (4), which states that a player is not allowed to “remove or press down on sand or loose soil.”
Patrick Reed claims the camera angle is to blame, and that he wasn’t trying to improve his lie… pic.twitter.com/EDIq5GtE54
— Fantasy Golf Pod (@fantasygolfpod) December 6, 2019
Reed was informed of the violation following his round after viewing a replay with a rules official and was given a two-stroke penalty. He pleaded his case to the official, essentially arguing that a different camera angle would have shown that his club was not directly behind the ball. But the replay was clear in the eyes of officials.
After today’s encounter, fans will be pleading with captains Els and Tiger Woods to pit the two off in a dream Sunday singles showdown.