Former Masters champion Patrick Reed denied he was a cheat Tuesday after being penalised for improving his lie, insisting his actions were not intentional.
Reed, who is part of captain Tiger Woods’ US team at this week’s Presidents Cup in Melbourne, was docked two strokes for improper swings during the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
The 29-year-old’s club twice moved sand from behind his ball as he set up his shot from a waste bunker in the third round of the tournament on Friday.
He has been criticised by some members of Ernie Els’ International side, including Cameron Smith who was quoted by Australian media as saying he had no sympathy for “cheats”.
Asked how he felt about being branded a cheat, Reed replied: “It’s not the right word to use.
“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.
“If you’re intentionally trying to do something, that would be considered cheating, but I wasn’t intentionally trying to improve a lie or anything like that, because if it was, it would have been a really good lie and I would have hit it really close.”
Reed acknowledged at the time that he moved sand with both practice swings and therefore violated the rules, calling it “unfortunate”. His bogey at the 11th hole was changed to a triple-bogey eight.
But he stressed there was no ill-intent and said his Presidents Cup teammates, including Woods, had offered support.
And he insisted he had no problem with anyone on the International team voicing their opinion.
“They’re not supposed to talk good about us and we’re not supposed to talk good about them leading into this event, that’s normal,” he said.
“At the end of the day, all I can do is control me and what comes out of my mouth. Can’t control what comes out of theirs.” The world number 12, who is playing in his third Presidents Cup, knows he faces a potentially hostile crowd at Royal Melbourne.
But he said he was ready to accept whatever came his way and had nothing to prove despite his week to forget.
“Not at all, whether it’s this week or any week. You go out in the Presidents Cup and try to play the best golf you can,” he said.
“I don’t feel like there’s ever been a year where it’s like, I have more to prove this year or that year. The biggest thing is to go out and do your job, whether you’re playing five matches, two matches, three matches, four matches.