Hero World Challenge: Patrick Reed handed two-stroke penalty for improving his lie

On the 11th hole of the third round, Reed pushed back sand on his two practice swings, which caught the attention of tournament officials.

Patrick Reed got caught up in a rules controversy, and was handed a two-stroke penalty.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Patrick Reed got caught up in a rules controversy, and was handed a two-stroke penalty for improving his lie on the waste bunker in the Hero World Challenge here on Friday.

On the 11th hole of the third round, Reed pushed back sand on his two practice swings, which caught the attention of tournament officials. The penalty cost Reed dearly, as he returned a two-over 74 to slip from overnight leader to sixth.

Reed violated the principle of ‘play the course as you find it’, which forbids players from removing or pressing down sand or loose soil (rule 8.1 a-4).

“It was not my intention to improve the lie. I don't ever put the club directly behind the ball on my practice swings because I'm always scared of moving the ball. So I'm always going to give myself some room. But after seeing that camera angle - it brushed the sand, and it's a penalty. I accept that," Reed said.

Slugger White, PGA Tour VP of Rules and Competitions, explained that intent does not matter when it comes to deciding the penalty.