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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 3 March 2021

Patrick Reed 'blocks out the noise' ahead of Saudi International after latest rulebook rumpus

American's superb victory at Farmers Insurance Open was overshadowed by controversial free drop during third round

Patrick Reed was understandably keen on Wednesday to move on from last weekend’s rules controversy, as he switches focus to securing back-to-back victories by winning the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.

The American, 30, triumphed at Torrey Pines on Sunday to claim the Farmers Insurance Open and move back inside the world’s top 10. He shot a closing 68 to win by five shots.

However, Reed's success was overshadowed by a ruling drama during Saturday's third round, when he took a free drop on the 10th hole from what he said was an embedded lie. Reed moved the ball before calling an official.

The official did deem it to have been embedded, allowing Reed a drop, although television replays showed the ball bounced once before settling into the rough. A volunteer had told Reed as he approached his ball that she “didn’t see” that take place.

It was not the first time Reed has been involved in a rules controversy – he was penalised for apparently improving his lie in a bunker at the 2019 Hero World Challenge – with world No 4 Xander Schauffele saying of Saturday’s incident that “the talk amongst the boys isn’t great, I guess”. Reed has maintained he did nothing wrong.

Asked on Wednesday at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club if he would do anything differently should the scenario arise again, the world No 10 said simply: “It's hard to say how I would change any situation considering I did it basically straight by the rule book.

“I feel like it was handled the best way that we could, and it was obviously handled the correct way when talking with the rules officials and seeing it through the rules officials.

“Really, that was last week, and the biggest thing for us is to focus on this week and focus on this golf tournament and go out and try to get another ‘W’.”

Reed said he had spoken to Schauffele by text message earlier this week, after the latter had reached out to him, and that the two were “all good”.

“I'm just going to leave it between me and him,” Reed said. “It’s one of those things that all you can do is try to do the right thing and from that point, move on.

“I've moved on from last week and really my biggest thing, what I'm here for, is trying to focus on this week and having a chance late Sunday to hopefully win another one, and try to hopefully win my first European Tour event over here.”

Reed, who finished second in the 2018 Race to Dubai and third last year, has become something of a regular on the European Tour despite playing predominantly on his home circuit in the United States. He contested the first two editions of the Saudi International, finishing 56th in 2019 but missing the cut last year.

“It's awesome to come over here," he said. "The support that this event has and the support that Saudi has given the players, as well as just the Tour, is amazing.

"For us, coming over and playing and having a golf course that's continuously gotten better and better each year, and the hospitality is amazing. It's one of these places you really look forward to coming to and playing.

“For me, it's always fun coming over and playing on The European Tour. Get away from my comfort zone at home. It's almost making me feel comfortable coming over and play on the European Tour. It's one of these things that I call my second home, and to be able to come over and play and support both tours for me means a lot.”

Reed said the fallout from Saturday did not make him any more motivated to perform well this week, saying: “The biggest thing is to go out and play the best golf I can. I've always been really good at blocking out noise and focusing on what's at hand.

“I think that's what's amazing about golfers in this day and age, as well as all the greats of the game, is that to be really good at golf, you have to really be mentally strong.

“At this level, everyone can hit the ball well and everyone can make putts and everyone can chip. It's usually the guy who wins week-in, week-out, mentally is the strongest that week as well as is able to overcome all the ups and downs of golf."

Updated: February 3, 2021 05:50 PM

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