Patrick Reed has mounted a robust defence of himself amid accusations that he cheated during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open.
Reed, who shares the lead at Torrey Pines going into the final round, found himself at the centre of yet another rules controversy after an incident that occurred on the tenth hole during Saturday's penultimate round.
After pulling his approach from a fairway bunker into the left rough at the tenth, Reed called in a rules official to check on whether or not his ball was embedded - but not before having already picked up his ball and despite television footage showing that the ball had, quite clearly, bounced.
During the telecast, Reed could be heard telling the official - twice - that his ball hadn't bounced. The official accepted Reed's version of events and he was allowed a free drop, from which he went on to save par.
Social media users were quick to condemn Reed - who has previous when it comes to the rules - for what many viewed as blatant cheating.
However, speaking to CBS Sports' Amanda Balionis after his round, Reed denied that he had done anything wrong.
Here's his explanation:
"The biggest thing was right after I hit the golf shot, we all saw the ball going left, the whole group did, and the ball just disappeared. None of us saw it bounce. So the first thing we do when we don’t see it bounce and the group doesn’t see it bounce, you ask the volunteer or whoever’s closest to that golf ball where it was. The volunteer said, ‘No, the ball did not bounce’ and, therefore, when that happened, I looked at my group and said, ‘Guys, she didn’t see it bounce either so I’ll mark this ball and see if it’s embedded.’
"Once I marked it, the first I wanted to do was make sure I got the ball out of my hand because, you know, you don’t want to clean it or anything because you don’t know if it’s embedded yet. When I put my finger down there and I felt like it has broken ground, the first you do is you call in the rules official because, you know, you want the rules official to come over and make sure that it is.
"The rules official came over and said, ‘Yes, this ball has broken the plane’ and with no-one seeing the ball bounce, that’s what we all saw. And so because of that, the rules official’s like, ‘Well, since no-one else has seen it bounce and it’s seven people, therefore, you get a free drop, free relief.’ At that point, we just go with what the rules official said and also with what the volunteers and we see.
"When we’re out there, we can’t see everything and when that happens you have to go with what the volunteers say and what the rules officials say. When all comes push and shove, we felt like we did the right thing and the rules officials say we did it absolutely perfectly and, with that being said, we moved on and continued playing."
Asked by Balionis if, with the benefit of hindsight, he would have still have picked up his ball before the rules official had arrived on the scene, Reed was adamant.
"Yes because when you have three players including yourself, three caddies and a volunteer who’s within five yards of that golf ball and no-one says it bounced, you’re going to mark it and check to see if that ball’s embedded. That’s what every player does."
He added: "I had no clue about it until I walked into scoring and had a rules officials standing there. He had his cell phone out and he said, ‘Hey guys, I want you to come over and I want to watch something.’ So we were like, ‘okay’ and we watched it and he said, ‘I just want to let you know that what transpired was textbook. You did exactly what you’re supposed to do.’"
World No.11 Reed, chasing his ninth PGA Tour title, shares the 54-hole lead at Torrey Pines with Mexican Carlos Ortiz.