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Rory: 'I don’t think it would be a big deal if it wasn’t Patrick Reed'

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Rory McIlroy saw the same thing you saw: Patrick Reed clearly brushing back sand during a practice swing from a waste area in Round 3 of the Hero World Challenge.

But, while McIlroy believes Reed was deserving of a penalty, he's is not so sure Reed deserves everyone's angst.

"I don’t think it would be a big deal if it wasn’t Patrick Reed. It’s almost like, a lot of people within the game, it’s almost like a hobby to sort of kick him when he’s down," McIlroy said Monday on "Morning Drive".

McIlroy added that he's surprised Reed didn't feel his club brushing back the sand, which eventually led to a two-stroke penalty for improving his lie. Reed was adamant that the violation was unintentional and even blamed a bad camera angle for making the incident appear worse than it was.

Reed not worried about rules violation 'ammo'

After Patrick Reed was assessed a two-shot penalty for improving his lie Friday at the Hero World Challenge, he’s not worried about any potential “ammo” fans could have at next week’s Presidents Cup.

Said McIlroy: "I think the live shot isn’t as incriminating as the slow-mo. It’s hard, because you try to give the player the benefit of the doubt, right? He’s in there, he’s trying to figure out what way to play the shot.

“It’s almost like it’s obliviousness to it rather than anything intentful, in terms of trying to get away with anything.”

However, added McIlroy, “It doesn’t make it right what he did.”

McIlroy and Reed staged an epic singles battle in the 2016 Ryder Cup. Reed is now representing the U.S. this week in the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne. While Reed says he's not concerned with fan reaction Down Under, McIlroy stated: “It’s going to make things really difficult for him down in Australia.”