Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed has apologised for an "unacceptable" foul-mouthed outburst on the opening day of the WGC-HSBC Champions Event in Shanghai, but is still set to be punished by the PGA Tour.
While playing partner Graeme McDowell claimed a two-shot lead with a five-under-par 67 at Sheshan International – despite dropping two shots in the last six holes – Reed was turning the air blue.
Reed was just four off the pace after a round of 71, but the American faces a hefty fine after being caught on camera not only swearing at himself, but also using language which could be interpreted as homophobic.
Television commentators swiftly apologised after Reed was clearly heard saying “Nice f****** three-putt you f****** f****t,” after a bogey on the first hole, his 10th of the day.
The 24-year-old took to Twitter to show contrition later in the day, writing: “I’m sorry for using offensive language today in China. My passion to play well got the best of me and my word choice was unacceptable.”
Reed’s apology may help mitigate his moment of indiscretion, but he is still likely to find himself on the wrong side of the Tour’s disciplinary rules. A PGA Tour spokesperson said: “The PGA Tour’s Conduct Unbecoming regulations prohibit the use of obscene language on the golf course. The PGA Tour will deal with this matter internally in accordance with regulations.”
McDowell began on the back nine and played his first 12 holes in seven under par. But he then failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker on the fourth and paid the price for what he called “a comedy of errors” on the par-five eighth, where he missed his only fairway of the day and also pulled his approach left of the green.
“A big key to this golf course is driving the ball well,” McDowell said. “I drove it very well today. I think I missed only one fairway, which is very important and the greens are in fantastic shape and I actually putted very well. Seven under par through 12 holes was a beautiful start. I dropped a couple coming in, but all in all, I am very, very pleased with five under par on what I thought was a reasonably tricky day.
Meanwhile McDowell believes the retirement of the European Tour CEO is ‘perfect timing’ not only for the Tour to appoint a ‘Maverick’ replacement but also to get Europe on par with the lucrative PGA Tour.
Irish-born George O’Grady will confirm later this month at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship he’s stepping down after more than 40 years working on the European Tour.
“It has been a very difficult five or six years for the tour, and I don’t think George O’Grady can be blamed for where the European Tour is at the minute,” said McDowell. “There’s a lot of variables that have contributed to where we are right now – the PGA Tour being the biggest variable; the economic situation being another. There’s no doubt we are in need of someone to step in and really work out where we go from here.
“I’d say George O’Grady has given 40 years service to the European Tour. He’s been highly committed to growing the Tour as we’ve seen in what the Ryder Cup’s become and what Asia’s become. As far as his replacement goes, it has to be someone who views the game of golf on a global scale and really be dynamic and perhaps a maverick to try to push the envelope, to put this tour back where it deserves to be, up there, if not on a par with the PGA Tour.”
Meanwhile World No. 1 Rory McIlroy’s absence from this week’s event in Shanghai has seen his caddy, J P Fitzgerald, miss out on being awarded 2014 Caddy of the Year.
Instead in the absence of McIlroy Scotland-born Craig Connelly, who caddies for reigning US Open and Players Championship winner Martin Kaymer, was presented with the award at a gala function in Shanghai.
Under the rules of the award the caddy and his player must be present at the WGC — HSBC Champions event.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved