Patrick Reed hears the hecklers early at the Presidents Cup

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U.S. team player Patrick Reed tees off on the 9th hole during their fourball match at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club in the opening rounds of the President’s Cup golf tournament in Melbourne, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — It seemed as if Patrick Reed wanted to hear it from the hecklers sooner than later.

Playing in his first match at the Presidents Cup since last week’s sand rule violation in the Bahamas, Reed teed off with teammate Webb Simpson at the Presidents Cup on Thursday to a few barbs and boos in the gallery on the first tee at Royal Melbourne.

“Hey Patrick, does your caddie have 14 clubs and a shovel,?” joked one fan just before Reed teed off against International players Hideki Matsuyama and C.T. Pan in the fourball competition.

Moments after he drove his ball, another yelled: “Get in the bunker!” And sure enough, it did, sliding into the green-side bunker to loud cheers from the gallery.

Reed then hit his approach into the bunker on the second hole and his tee shot on the par-3 third again found the sand.

By then, the sand and bunker jokes from the following gallery were all becoming a bit repetitive and tired.

When asked whether he felt the Australian crowd was respectful, Reed replied: “”It’s exactly what I expected.”

Teammate Simpson added: “Undeserved. Undeserved.”

Matt Kuchar, who did not play for the Americans on Thursday, said he heard the boos on the first tee.

“My reaction was it’s going to fire Patrick up,” Kuchar said. “I think he really enjoys that. I saw that as being a thing where, man, this is going to get Patrick in the state he wants to be in. This is his element.”

Pan said he didn’t notice any untoward comments towards Reed: “”Sorry, I was focusing on my game. Didn’t pay attention.”

Matsuyama and Pan were 3-up after nine holes and hung on for a 1-up win to help give the Internationals a 4-1 lead after Thursday’s fourball matches.

Reed is still dealing with the fallout of his actions at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

From a sandy waste area left of the 11th fairway in the third round, video clearly showed his ball in a rumpled foot print. Reed set his club behind the ball, drew it back and scraped back some of the sand behind his ball. Then, he did it again, swiping away more sand.

Reed said then he wasn’t cheating.

“If you’re intentionally trying to do something, that would be considered cheating,” he said. “But I wasn’t intentionally trying to improve a lie or anything like that. Because if it was, it would have been a really good lie and I would have hit it really close.”

Two Australian members of the International team — Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith — were critical of Reed, adding speculation that the crowds might give Reed a hard time.

Reed ignored any criticism and did his part on the back nine to help pull the Americans even, making birdies on the 12th and 16th to level the match before Matsuyama birdied the 17th to give the Internationals the lead again. Reed’s 30-foot birdie chance on the 18th to halve the match stayed above the hole.

What bothered Reed more than the crowd comments most was the score.

“I think we’re pretty upset with how the day went on as a whole and as a group,” Reed said.

Reed and Simpson will get a chance to even their record on Friday when they play Leishman and Abraham Ancer in foursomes.

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