The Selective Persecution of Patrick Reed

Our crayon-toting golf media has declared Patrick Reed a villain.

Stephanie Wei (of whom I am a fan and who has more of a spine than most of the rest of the lot put together) is out with another hatchet job on Patrick Reed.  The rest of the lemming-like golf media is running with it.  (You have probably already read her first and the Shane Ryan book excerpt that started it all.)

Contrast the coverage of Patrick Reed with a couple of other PGA Tour players:

Phil Mickelson, inside trader extraordinaire, remains a hero.  After all, he was merely accused of cheating — law-breaking, actually — after extensive investigation by that silly little outfit called the FBI.  Move along.  Nothing to see here.

Tiger Woods, sexual deviant who gets his jollies by choking and slapping women (see his text messages) and frequent host of convicted PED peddler Anthony Galea, remains a hero.  When Blood Sport turned four professed Galea visits into fourteen documented visits (with 49 others by Mark Lindsay), the golf media didn’t find that worthy of even one press conference question for Mr. Woods.  Move along.  Nothing to see here.

Patrick Reed, on the other hand, needs to be exposed.  It’s claimed he cheated in rounds played against his college teammates to see who got to play in the real college events.  He is also accused of stealing money and a watch (or something along those lines) from his teammates’ lockers.  Okay, look, for the purposes of this piece, I’m going to assume he did all of those things.  I’m NOT going to give Reed the benefit of the doubt.  I’m going to call him guilty of one episode of petty theft and a couple episodes of pencil-whipping his teammates in a qualifying round of golf.

Let’s put Reed in stocks and display him under the Big Oak Tree at Augusta.  Throw tomatoes at him.  Curse him and spit on him.

But let’s all ignore those silly FBI accusations against Phil Mickelson.  With Tiger Woods, let’s all heed the advice of Mark Steinberg and “leave the kid alone.”  Woods was 34 when Steinberg said that five years ago; Reed is 24.  Woods entered golf with an “I am Tiger Woods” ad campaign, which painted him as the role model to end all role models; Reed has never made himself out to be anything other than what he is.

The golf media has always been harsh toward Reed.  Maybe his direct, self-assured manner unsettled them.  After fifteen years of jelly-spined coverage of Gandhi II, meeting a man with a backbone might have that effect.

The media made a huge deal of Reed saying he considered himself to be a top five player.  My favorite example of that was Josh Sens, in a Tour Confidential, saying if Reed won another event, Sens might consider putting him in the top twenty-five.  At the time Sens wrote that, Reed was already in the OWGR top twenty-five.  (“Can a Golf Writer be this stupid and still collect a check?”)

What was the media’s real problem with Reed?  First, realize the current golf media is embarrassingly weak on logic and facts, but strong on symbolism and everybody-knows-that “truths.”  Consider the many media-created memes surrounding Tiger Woods that have been repeated so unceasingly that many people think them true: he brought athleticism to golf; he hit shots no one else could hit; he made other golfers rich.  The list is long.

Symbolic of this media mythology — symbolic above all else — was the Sunday red and black clothing that Tiger Woods invariably wore.  Other players avoided wearing those colors, not just on Sunday, but on any day.  Patrick Reed wasn’t willing to play that game, and for his insubordination, he had to be taught a lesson.

Look, I’m not defending Patrick Reed.  If he did something wrong, have fun crucifying him.  I’ll hand you the nails.  But is it not more than a little odd that the same golf media that thought it peachy-keen for Tiger Woods to sign an incorrect scorecard at Augusta and continue play would be so up-in-arms about a scoring problem in a team qualifying event that happened several years ago in college and meant nothing to anyone not on the team?

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6 Responses to The Selective Persecution of Patrick Reed

  1. Anonymous says:

    tiger and phil are the golden geese

  2. JoseyWales says:

    Lanny…Golf is over- covered. over-televised and over-written about. With Tiger Woods out of the picture there just isn’t enough “golf stuff” to talk about so y’all gotta go digging..deep. So you will see all these non-stories until folks get tired and stop reading, viewing and clicking. It amazes me all the silly stuff written about golf.

    • lannyh says:

      I agree. And not just golf, everything. Are we better-informed in any meaningful way with 24/7 news channels rather than 30 minutes of news a day? I would argue that with 24/7 coverage, we no longer even get 30 minutes of worthwhile coverage. Causitive or not, I can say my interest in the NFL seems to have declined in an inverse proportion to the growing amount of coverage it gets. I can’t turn on my radio without hearing some NFL tidbit I don’t care about. If DiMarco Murray goes to Philadelphia, tell me next August when the Cowboys play their first preseason game.

      That said, I’d rather see ten golf journalists write ten solid pieces of long-form journalism on ten consecutive days rather than, the way it is now, with all ten of them writing about the same shallow things, repeating each other with no value add whatsoever. (My problem here is not with Wei’s topic, just that, for fifteen years with Woods and Mickelson the golf media acted like a branch of those golfers’ PR firms, and now, suddenly, they go all Mike Wallace on us with Reed.) Golf journalism nowadays, for the most part, seems to be no deeper than barroom and breakroom banter among fans.

      You’re right, though. Today’s golf writers feel the need to fill up the allotted space to justify a paycheck. Dan Jenkins, friend of Hogan, college golfer, World Golf Hall of Famer, spent as much time covering football as he did golf.

  3. Jason says:

    Personally, when Reed came out with his cocksure attitude and starting winning, I thought to myself “I like this guy”. The fact that he wore TW’s uniform only made me like him more (nice to see someone who isn’t afraid to wear red). Now that the golf media is trying to crucify him by bringing up his relatively minor indiscretions, I have decided to go full on fan boy. He clearly is focused on winning and has the cutthroat attitude that is required to succeed at the highest level.

    The mainstream golf media is going to unwittingly create new Reed fans with all of this nonsense about watch stealing, practice round cheating, and familial problems. I hope Reed and Rory lock horns in the final group at Augusta this year.

    • Sports-realist says:

      Actually the ‘bad boy’ get more attention, more endorsement deals, more myths….Now ofcourse, the ‘bad boy’ image is rather amusing, because you can either be presented as ‘Fonzy’ or ‘white trash’, aka how John Daly is presented……

      • lannyh says:

        Yeah, it’s much better for Reed than the treatment guys like Kuchar and Haas and Furyk get/got. To the golf media, those were faceless members of the Washington Generals, nothing more.

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