The Presidents Cup isn’t going to be a simple tournament for Patrick Reed, the golfer nicknamed Captain America for his prowess in international team competition. This time, he warned, it’s personal.

The biennial event, usually a fairly rollicking affair pitting an American team against an International squad (not including Europe), takes place this week in Melbourne and Reed comes into the competition in fans’ crosshairs after he was assessed a two-shot penalty last weekend that brought cheating allegations down upon him.

During the third round of the Hero Challenge in the Bahamas, Reed was judged to have improved his line of play, a two-stroke penalty, when he disrupted sand on his backswing in a waste bunker. He took issue with allegations that he had been cheating because he said he lacked the requisite intent.

“It’s not the right word to use,” he told reporters at Royal Melbourne (via GolfChannel.com). “At the end of the day, if you do something unintentionally that breaks the rules, it’s not considered cheating and at the end of the day that’s what it is. If you’re intentionally trying to do something, that would be considered cheating, 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.”

Days later, the 2018 Masters winner arrived in Australia for the President Cup and braced for questions and taunts from Aussie fans. Sure enough, he heard it the moment he stepped onto the first tee for a practice round Tuesday and a fan yelled, “Next on the tee, the excavator.”

Reed said a “camera angle” was partly to blame for the penalty. “I mean, it is, it is a big part, intent, but at the same time, when you only have one camera angle, that’s all you can go off of, especially being how much sands around here, how many footprints are there,” he said (via Golf.com). “It’s a 50-50 battle whenever you’re being assessed or anything like that, especially from that angle. At the end of the day you’ve just got to — you only can control what you can do, you can’t control everyone else. As long as I can go out there and do what I’m supposed to do and live life the way I feel like I’m supposed to live my life, that’s all I can control.”

NBC’s Paul Azinger called him out on it, saying, “If that’s not improving your lie, I don’t know what is. He knows better. I don’t know why that happened or what he was thinking.”

Cameron Smith, who is on the Aussies’ team, questioned Reed’s explanation. “If you make a mistake maybe once, you could maybe understand, but to give a bit of a bull---- response like the camera angle … that’s pretty up there [inexcusable],” he told the Australian AP. “I know Pat pretty good and he’s always been nice to me, so I don’t want to say anything bad about him, but anyone cheating the rules, I’m not up for that. I don’t have any sympathy for anyone that cheats.”

This isn’t the first time Reed has had the verb applied to him. He was accused in the book “Slaying the Tiger: A Year Inside the Ropes on the New PGA Tour” during college qualifying while at Georgia. Reed denied those accusations. Video from 2015 in the Bahamas seemed to show Reed placing the club directly behind the ball in a waste area. In 2018 at Bay Hill, he tried to get relief from a palmetto bush and, when he was twice denied, said, “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth.”

Speaking of Spieth, Reed invoked his name last year after the Americans’ loss in Ryder Cup play in which he played poorly and sparingly while the United States got drubbed by Europe. He blamed Spieth, with whom he has been paired successfully in the past, for not wanting to play with him. He also criticized U.S. captain Jim Furyk for leaving him out of two team sessions.

Dealing with that kind of team dynamic, usually not an issue in golf, is one problem Tiger Woods, the team’s captain and player, won’t have to deal with and Reed’s teammates seem to relish the controversy, too. Reed is one of a “group of guys in the world that can play really well p----- off,” Justin Thomas said. ” … I’m glad that he’s on my side.”

Reid went so far as to use an image of him shushing Europe fans during 2014 Ryder Cup play as a cover for his putter.

“It goes from wanting to beat those guys to it now turning personal,” he said Tuesday, “so it’s going to be a fun week.”

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