On Sunday, Reed was embroiled in another controversy when his tee shot on the 17th hole of the third round of the Dubai Desert Classic became lodged in a palm tree. Reed used binoculars to identify the specific markings on his ball.
If Reed hadn’t identified his ball, he would have been forced to go back to the tee to hit his third shot. Instead, he was given an unplayable ball drop below the trees. He made a bogey 5.
Reed carded a 3-under 69 Sunday and is 11 under after 54 holes. McIlroy shot 7-under 65 on Sunday and is 15 under after 54 to take a 3-shot lead going into Monday’s final round.
After his round, Reed told reporters in Dubai that he was “100% sure” he saw his ball on the palm limb.
“I would have gone back to the tee if I wasn’t 100%,” Reed said. “I got lucky that we were able to look through the binoculars and you have to make sure it’s your ball, and how I mark my golf balls is I always put an arrow on the end of my line, because the Pro VI, the arrow on the end stop before it, so you can see the arrow.
“And you could definitely see and identify the line with the arrow on the end, and the rules official, luckily, was there to reconfirm and check it to make sure it was mine as well.”
The DP World Tour issued a statement Sunday clarifying the ruling: “Two on-course referees and several marshals identified that Patrick Reed’s ball had become lodged in a specific tree following his tee shot on 17. The DP World Tour chief referee joined the player in the area and asked him to identify his distinctive ball markings. Using binoculars, the chief referee was satisfied that a ball with those markings was lodged in the tree.
“The player subsequently took an unplayable penalty drop (Rule 19.2c) at the point directly below the ball on the ground. To clarify, the player was not asked to specify the tree but to identify his distinctive ball markings to confirm it was his ball.”