The friendly – or maybe not-so-friendly – Presidents Cup banter has officially commenced with Australian Marc Leishman taking a pot shot at bunker bandit Patrick Reed following one of the more explosive PGA Tour rulings in recent memory.

Reed, who’s had a penchant for finding controversy, found himself at the centre of another at the Hero World Challenge this morning. During the third round at Albany, Reed was in a waste bunker and 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.”

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.

“I wish [the cameras] were actually directly on the side of me,” Reed said afterwards, “because it was in a pretty good footprint … and I felt like my club was that far behind the ball when I was actually taking the practice stroke, which I felt like I was taking it up. And it was … obviously, it was hitting a little sand. I didn’t feel it drag. But … whenever you do that, if it does hit the sand, just like if you’re in a hazard area and you take a practice swing and it brushes grass and the grass breaks, it’s a penalty. Whenever they brought it up to me and I saw it, it definitely did drag some of the sand. Because of that, it’s considered a two-stroke penalty.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, Leishman lit the Presidents Cup fuse when asked for his take on the Reed incident following his third round at the Australian Open. Here’s a snippet from the media scrum:

Q.  Golf’s always a sport where players have prided themselves on honour and honesty and everything.  Did you see Patrick Reed, what happened overnight?  Have you got any thoughts on that?

MARC LEISHMAN:  Yeah, I did see it and it looked pretty ordinary, to be honest.  That’s probably all I’ve got to say about that.  It didn’t look too good for him.

Q.  Do you expect he’ll get a roasting from the crowds when he gets here?


Q.  There’s a bit of banter on Twitter and stuff like that with kids digging sand out of holes and stuff like that, would you like to see fans turn up with shovels and that to try to stir him up a bit at the President’s Cup?

MARC LEISHMAN:  There are opportunities there, put it that way.  Maybe not shovels, but I think he’s definitely opened a door there, that he’s brought on himself.

Q.  Would you encourage fans to bring out the passion in this regard?

MARC LEISHMAN:  As long as it’s not disrespectful, I think.  You never want to cross the line, but I think there is some pretty good ammo there, isn’t there? 

Q.  Would you like to play him?

MARC LEISHMAN:  I don’t really care who I play, to be honest.  Whoever Ernie puts me up against I’m happy to play. 

Q.  You’re hoping for Tiger, aren’t you?

MARC LEISHMAN:  No, I’m not really.  I don’t want to give anyone any ammunition to want to beat us anymore than what they already do, so I’ll just hopefully play good golf, beat who I’m playing and hopefully we’ll have a successful week.


So there you have it. GAME ON, GENTLEMEN! Bring on Royal Melbourne.

Earlier, Reed continued his defence: “I didn’t feel like it really would have affected my lie. I mean every time I get in the bunker, I’m scared to even get my club close to it. It was that far away, but whenever you do that if it does hit the sand, just like if you’re in a hazard area and you take a practice swing and it brushes grass and the grass breaks, it’s a penalty. So because of that and after seeing the video, I accept that, and it wasn’t because of any intent, I thought I was far enough away.”

The infraction turned the bogey 6 Reed made on the hole into a triple-bogey 8 and dropped Reed, who began the day with a three-stroke advantage, from one stroke off the lead to three back after a two-over 74.

Reed said that he was disappointed with the outcome, and lamented the decision, but acknowledged that he had to move on in hopes of still winning the tournament on Saturday.

“At the end of the day, you’ve got to let things kind of roll off your shoulders,” he said. “I still have a whole other round to play [Saturday]. If I stew over something that I felt like I didn’t intentionally do – at the end of the day, it’s my word versus their word, and they weren’t standing there, they had a camera angle. So because of that you don’t really have a choice. … So at the end of the day, you have to just accept it and move on.”