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?