Patrick Reed is going the legal route to push back against a media figure’s allegation he cheated during a recent golf tournament.
According to a Golfweek article on Thursday, Reed’s attorney, Peter Ginsburg, sent a cease and desist letter to Brandel Chamblee, demanding the Golf Channel’s outspoken analyst stop saying the controversial golfer intentionally broke the rules in an incident at last month’s tournament in the Bahamas.
The “cheater” label dates back to an incident in the third round of the Hero World Challenge in December in which Reed was assessed a two-stroke penalty after video footage emerged showing he improved his lie in a sandy waste area. Reed didn’t feel calling it cheating was right because he didn’t “intentionally trying to improve the lie.”
During the Presidents Cup, Reed disputed the charge that he cheated.
“It’s not the right word to use,” Reed said. “Whenever you’re out there and you do something unintentionally that breaks a rule, it’s not considered cheating and at the end of the day that’s what it is. If you intentionally try to do something, then yes it would be considered cheating. But I wasn’t intentionally trying to improve the lie or anything like that. If I was, it would have been a pretty good lie and I would have hit it really close.”
In the letter obtained by Golfweek, Ginsburg wrote the purpose of the missive “is to obtain assurance that you will refrain from any further dissemination, publication or republication of false and defamatory statements concerning Mr. Reed, including any allegations that he ‘cheated’ at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.”
Chamblee has been heavily critical of Reed in the aftermath of the rules violation and told ESPN he had received the letter, which hints at legal action.
“The letter accuses flippant and reckless comments,” Chamblee said. “My comments were weighed heavily before they came out of my mouth, and they were meant to address the larger issue of what I believe to be the decaying traditions of the game. This game has always had at its core the belief that self governing gives the game its appeal. Inasmuch as we play the game for camaraderie. The self-governing tradition is slowly being replaced by a catch-me-if-you-can attitude.
“I think the whole golf world was watching how the Reed incident was treated. Including the young men and women who will soon be on their respective tours. If the catch-me-if-you-can attitude pervades junior golf, 10 years later it pervades professional golf and that concerns me. And was the origin of my remarks.”
Chamblee has delivered some pointed on-air critiques of Reed.
“To defend what Patrick Reed did is defending cheating,” he said during one broadcast. “It’s defending breaking the rules.”
Reed hasn’t just gotten backlash from Chamblee. He faced the wrath of fans at last week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions and at the Presidents Cup last month.
At the Sentry event, a fan added yelled “cheater” at Reed as the former Masters champion’s 8-foot birdie putt went well long on the final playoff hole on Sunday. A visibly upset Reed glared at the fan as appeared to softly mouth his displeasure. But Reed on Tuesday, preparing for this week’s Sony Open, told Golf Channel that he didn’t hear the heckler.
Reed wound up losing to Justin Thomas in the playoff after Xander Schauffele was first eliminated.
Reed also didn’t escape the fans’ heckling at the Presidents Cup, and it got so bad Kessler Karain, Reed’s caddie and brother-in-law, was involved in an altercation with a spectator and ultimately prohibited from working the final day.
As for Chamblee, he told Golfweek he received the letter during the Presidents Cup, where Reed was 0-3 before winning in his Sunday singles match as part of the United States victory.
At the time, Ginsberg wrote that Reed said there was no intent to violate a rule.
“Indeed, as you should know, and presumably do know but chose to ignore, if the PGA Tour believed that Mr. Reed had intentionally violated any rule, he would have been disqualified from the tournament rather than assessed a two-stroke penalty,” Ginsberg wrote. “Everyone involved agrees that Mr. Reed acted unintentionally, and the tape of the incident fully supports that conclusion.”
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said Sunday he considered the matter closed.
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