Patrick Reed's torrid Presidents Cup continues as altercation with fan sees American's caddie banned




 

The controversy surrounding golf's pantomime villain has finally spilt out into the stalls. Patrick Reed's caddie was involved in an altercation with a fan at Royal Melbourne and has been banned from carrying the bag on the final day of the Presidents Cup.

It is an unprecedented situation, despite these team matchplay events raising the passions to previously unvisited levels in the supposed gentleman's game. But then, at the end of a torrid week for Reed, it must be concluded that the American, and his coterie, are a one-off in this sport.

It began in the Bahamas, when Reed was penalised for blatantly improving his lie in a bunker and is concluding in further ignominy, being labelled "a cancer" in the US team room.

Last night, Reed went out in the singles with Taiwan's CT Pan desperately trying to contribute to his country's cause against the Internationals after three defeats in as many matches. Kevin Kirk, his coach, was due to take the bag following the ugly scenes at the climax of his and Webb Simpson's 5 & 3 fourballs defeat by Pan and Hideki Matsuyama.

A witness told Golf Digest that Kessler Karain, who is Reed's brother-in-law as well as his caddie, "threw a punch". However, in a statement Karain denied going that far. "After hearing several fans in Australia for three days, I'd had enough," he said. "Riding on the cart, the guy was about three feet from Patrick and said 'you f------ suck'. I got off the cart and shoved him, said a couple of things, probably a few expletives.

"Security came and I got back in the cart and left. I don't think there's one caddie I know that could blame me. Unless his bones break like Mr Glass, the most harm done was a little spilt beer, which I'm more than happy to reimburse him for."

Karain was summoned to see Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner. It is understood that Tiger Woods, the US captain, was involved in the decision to relieve Karain of his Sunday duties, but that it was as much to do with avoiding another flashpoint as any punishment.

As it tends to, the Tour's PR department released a statement on Reed's behalf that sounded nothing like him. "I respect the Tour's decision," it read. "We are all focused on winning the Presidents Cup."

As Karain indicated, Reed has been on the receiving end of the galleries' comments all week and this was inevitable after his actions at the Hero World Challenge, in which he took practice swings in a waste bunker that removed sand from behind his ball. Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman were just two members of Ernie Els's International team who called him out and predicted he would be a target for the home support.

"I don't have any sympathy for anyone that cheats," Smith said. "I hope the crowd absolutely gives it to not only him, but everyone [on the American team] next week."

Reed has never been one for compromise or, indeed, regret and, as he continued to insist there had been no intention to cheat and that a misleading camera angle was to blame, he promised Smith and his team-mates that they had "just made it personal".

On the second day, Reed reacted to the baiting and, after holing a five-foot putt, put his finger to his lips and then pretended to use his putter as a shovel.

Of course, Reed famously "shushed" the crowd at Gleneagles at the 2014 Ryder Cup, but at the time that was appreciated as "good banter". On this occasion, Reed's response was viewed with a mixture of bemusement and disdain, particularly when the Tour's own social media accounts sent out the clip accompanied by text saying he was "having fun with the crowd".

Apparently, even some of own team-mates did not approve of this making light of rule-breaking, with the Golf Channel reporting one source within the team room saying that the 29-year-old had "become a cancer".

Certainly it is hard to imagine any US captain following Woods's example and selecting Reed as a wild card in the near future, especially as he broke an unwritten rule after last year's US defeat in Paris when criticising then captain Jim Furyk and Jordan Spieth, the only partner with whom Reed has ever won a match.

Woods tried to bring him back into the fold, but the gamble backfired as he went into the singles 10-8 down and fearing becoming the first losing US Presidents Cup captain this century.

Reed used to call himself "Captain America", but that nickname seemed perverse as he teed it up against Pan, having won only one of his past six encounters in team matchplay. He has always been a loner, but not since his college days, when he was thrown off the University of Georgia team in the wake of cheating allegations, has he appeared so cast adrift.

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