PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – So what happens when Patrick Reed reaches the par-3 17th at The Players Championship this week?
Is he worried that the heckling he has endured since his controversial penalty in the waste area at the Hero World Challenge three months ago will get even worse? Is he worried that fans, notorious for their liquid courage around the Stadium Course’s island hole, will heckle him?
“No, not really,” Reed said Wednesday in his pre-tournament news conference.
But, he acknowledged a bad shot there won’t go over well.
Reed’s caddie and brother-in-law, Kessler Karain, hit the green Wednesday for the first time since he began playing in the annual Players Caddie Challenge.
“I cannot hit it in the water the next four days, because, if I do, if I hit in the water once, I won't hear the end of it until next year,” he said.
Reed was heckled hard at the Presidents Cup in his first appearance after the Hero World Challenge, where he was penalized for moving sand away from his ball with multiple practice backswings. He stands firm insisting that he wasn’t improving his lie intentionally, that he wasn’t even aware he was moving sand, and that the camera angle made it look worse than it was.
That controversy has followed him since, with a fan at the Arnold Palmer Invitational ejected after heckling him Saturday on the ninth hole there.
“I don’t understand why you can’t heckle a guy who has been accused of cheating on the PGA Tour,” that fan told the Orlando Sentinel as he was being escorted off the course.
Reed was asked Wednesday if thought that kind of “noise” would ever go away, or if winning will help him. He won the WGC-Mexico Championship three weeks ago.
“Winning always helps everything,” Reed told reporters at The Players. “But, really, at the end of the day, the noise goes away once you all decide it goes away. I feel like the players, and all of us, have moved on, but at the end of the day, all we can do is go out and continue playing good golf and doing what we're supposed to do.”
Last month, Brooks Koepka was asked on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio if Reed was cheating in that waste area.
“Yeah. I don’t know what he was doing, building sand castles in the sand,” Koepka said. “But, you know where your club is. I took three months off and I can promise you I know if I touch sand. If you look at the video, obviously, he grazes the sand twice and then he still chops down on it.”
Reed was asked Wednesday if he had talked to Koepka since then.
“I have not,” Reed said. “Last week, he played in the same event, and I don't think I saw him once.”