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  • Alistair Tait

How does Patrick Reed European number 1 sound?

Has anyone else realised that if the rest of the European Tour season is wiped out then Patrick Reed could be named European Tour number one for 2020?

Hmmmm, wonder how that potential outcome will go down with golf fans?

I’ve found the American to be very accommodating when I’ve spoken to him after rounds on the European Tour. I’ve spoken to him with other journalists, and on two occasions on my own. He’s been courteous, polite and answered questions patiently and fully.

However, like the rest of the golf world, his actions in a bunker during last year’s Hero World Challenge disturbed me. Reed was handed a two-stroke penalty. Many, myself included, feel he got off lightly.

Brooks Koepka was right to point out that any tour pro worth his salt would have known instinctively if he’d brushed sand behind his ball, not just once but twice.

I’ll go further: the majority of handicap golfers would know if they’d brushed sand in a bunker. Better still, they’d have immediately called a penalty on themselves.

Paul McGinley put it best when he said:

“If he had showed a little bit more humility in his interviews afterwards, then people would have judged him less harshly than he has been. There has been a body of things coming up against Reed now that's putting him in a bad light, which doesn't reflect well on him or the game.”
“He could have easily said 'I didn't try to cheat and it wasn't my intention to cheat, but I see it looks bad and I've got to be very careful going forward', but he didn't do that. You can't say the 'cheat' word and you can't say he definitely did it because we don't have 100 per cent proof, so it's a grey area in that sense, but when you see the replays it doesn't look great.”

I’m not going to say the “C” word either, despite the temptation. However, McGinley’s right: a little humility would’ve gone a long way. It still would. It’s never too late to own up to a mistake. Yet for many one of our last images of Reed is him making light of the incident after getting booed in the Presidents Cup, with the PGA Tour’s official Twitter account unbelievably tweeting that Reed was “having some fun with the crowd.” Whoever put that message out just doesn’t get it. Neither does Reed.

Reed is top of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai thanks to victory in the WGC – Mexico Championship, one of his two European Tour appearances this season along with the Saudi International. The American has a 218.2-point lead over Lee Westwood in the Race to Dubai.

It’s obviously too earlier to say the entire European Tour season will be written off, but the signs aren’t good. The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in May has been postponed, with other tournaments, notably the Open Championship, expected to be cancelled. However, even if we come through this virus soon, it’s hard to see travel restrictions being lifted and large gatherings being allowed until we are completely out of the woods. That spells bad news for the European Tour and the Ladies European Tour with members from so many different countries around the globe.

No American has ever won the Harry Vardon Trophy as the European Tour’s money leader. Reed could become the first. How will golf fans feel if the 2018 Masters winner does lift the trophy this year? It's a possibility that doesn't sit too well with me.


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