Two swings essentially cost Patrick Reed a spot alongside Rory McIlroy in the last group for Monday's final round of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic.
Both resulted in unplayables, at the sixth and 17th holes, as Reed settled for a 3-under 69 and now find himself in a logjam at 11 under and four shots back of McIlroy.
"A little frustrating," Reed told reporters afterward. "Felt like I actually hit the ball a little better today. Had one loose swing there on 8 that made me take an unplayable. But then I got on 17, I felt like I hit a perfect drive, looking at the line I was looking at. If anything, I was hoping it might have been a hair more right. I hit it so solid, might just go through [the fairway], next thing you know, we find it in the palm tree."
Unlike the par-4 eighth hole, where Reed yanked his drive well left and ended up carding double bogey, he appeared to have cut the corner nicely at the dogleg-right, par-4 17th. But what could've been a 40-yard pitch or so for his second shot turned into a 50-yard third shot from the rough; television cameras showed Reed's drive hitting one of a cluster of palm trees and not coming down.
Reed later identified it and went on to make bogey.
"It was an unfortunate break there, but at the end of the day, I felt like I rebounded really well," said Reed, who birdied each of the next two holes after his double and then the par-5 finishing hole. "Whenever I got in trouble there, made double on 8 and bounced back with two birdies and same thing there on 17. … You're going to get bad breaks once in a while. You just have to bounce back from them."
Full-field scores from the Hero Dubai Desert Classic
Reed, now ranked No. 90 in the Official World Golf Ranking, is coming off a missed cut in Abu Dhabi and hasn't won worldwide since the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open. He began this week by getting involved in a little controversy with McIlroy and a golf tee.
Now, he's got a chance to track down McIlroy and deny him the title in Dubai.
But partly thanks to a bigger piece of wood, he'll just have to do so from a group ahead.