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Golf may be regarded as a gentlemen’s game in which players report their own rules violations and the disputes between competitors are resolved in private. That’s gone out the window for now, all because of a two-stroke penalty called on Patrick Reed following a bunker shot in a December 2019 tournament.

Reed said he didn’t think he’d done anything wrong at the time, but he accepted the penalty after seeing the video of the shot in question. That wasn’t good enough for a TV analyst who accused Reed of cheating.

Just when that controversy died down under the threat of a civil lawsuit, a new critic of the 2018 Masters champion emerged. This time the volume has been raised to “10” because the heat is coming from Brooks Koepka, one of the best players in the world.

A bunker shot turns into a big story in golf

Patrick Reed was playing in the third round of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas last December when he hit into a bunker on the 11th hole. While taking two practice swings, he committed a rules infraction by displacing a small amount of sand from behind the ball.

Reed felt that a better camera angle would have shown that the sand that he moved wouldn’t have had any effect on his shot, but he accepted the penalty that changed his score for the hole from a bogey to a triple-bogey and turned a round of 72 to a 74.

That may have been a $750,000 mistake because Reed finished two shots behind winner Henrik Stenson. It got worse for the 29-year-old Texan because TV analyst Brandel Chamblee told a Golf Channel audience “To defend what Patrick Reed did is to defend cheating.”

Shortly after that comment, an attorney for Reed has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Chamblee demanding that he stop insinuating that his client had cheated.

Brooks Koepka ridicules Patrick Reed

It’s one thing when a TV commentator criticizes the 14th-ranked player in the world. It’s quite another when the No. 2 player in the world agrees that there was something untoward in what Patrick Reed did in the Bahamas.

“Uh, yeah. I think, yeah, yeah,” Brooks Koepka said. “I don’t know what he was doing, building sandcastles in the sand, but you know where your club is.”

Koepka equated the situation to the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, saying that players always know the rules and that integrity must mean something. He faults himself for not calling out past instances he’s seen by others on the course.

“It goes on a little bit more than people think. … I haven’t opened my mouth,” he said. “But now if I saw it, just because of where I’m at in the game, the stature that I have, I would definitely say something.”

Will Patrick Reed fire back at his latest critic?

Patrick Reed is in a difficult situation because he’ll be pestered with a fresh round of questions from reporters at upcoming tournaments. Answering the questions will prompt new stories to be written and will continue to remind fans of a story he’d like to put behind him.

TV analyst Brandel Chamblee had said he wasn’t going to be intimidated by the threat of a lawsuit, and the tactic would be even less likely to spook Brooks Koepka, who has collected more than $30.3 million since in prize money since turning pro in 2012 in addition to endorsement income.