Patrick Reed pushes back on claims he cheated at Hero World Challenge

MELBOURNE, Australia -- The rules violation that cost him two strokes and, perhaps, part of his reputation has followed Patrick Reed from the Bahamas to Australia.

The seven-time PGA Tour winner who was deemed to have improved his lie in a sandy waste area last week at the Hero World Challenge heard taunts from spectators at Royal Melbourne on Tuesday, more criticism from another player and even some good-natured ribbing from U.S. teammate Justin Thomas.

All the while, Reed maintains he did nothing more than make a mistake, and he took issue with the notion that he cheated.

"It's not the right word to use,'' Reed said after a practice round at Royal Melbourne, where the Presidents Cup begins on Thursday. "At the end of the day, if you do something unintentionally that breaks the rules, it's not considered cheating, but I wasn't intentionally trying to improve a lie or anything like that. If I was, it would have been a really good lie, and I would have hit it really close.''

As it was, Reed made a bogey-6 on the par-5 11th hole at Albany Golf Club during the third round that was later changed to an 8 due to a two-stroke penalty. Video of the incident went viral, with Reed, 29, getting a considerable amount of heat. The penalty was the difference in Reed's finishing two strokes behind winner Henrik Stenson.

Cam Smith, an Aussie who is playing for the International side this week, said over the weekend that he didn't take kindly to a "cheat'' doing what Reed did.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, said of Reed on Tuesday that "he brought that on himself. I think he's going to have a tough time with the media, anyway. It looked like a very stupid thing he did. .. It doesn't look great for him, I can say that. It's going to be a tough one to get rid of.''

Spectators at Royal Melbourne on Tuesday taunted Reed by welcoming him to the first tee as "The Excavator.'' Even his own teammate, Justin Thomas, who played a practice round with U.S. captain Tiger Woods, Patrick Cantlay and Reed, mocked Reed by taking practice swings in a bunker in which he moved sand in his backswing.

But for the most part, Reed's teammates, including Woods, backed him. Woods said he had a brief conversation with Reed about the subject and encouraged him to move on. Webb Simpson said he believes in "giving him the benefit of the doubt.'' Thomas said his bunker recreation was "all in good fun.''

NBC analyst and former major champion Paul Azinger said it will not impact the team because "the players love him. It might motivate the International team for a hot minute. But that's not enough. Patrick will have to contend with this for the rest of his life. It looked terrible.

"The highest handicapper at your club knows not to do that. It's impossible to get this high in the game and do that. You always make sure you don't touch the sand.''

Reed, who has been a gritty player for the U.S. in team competitions, seemed to take the backlash as motivation and "turning it personal.''

"At the end of the day, you can't control what other people say about you,'' he said. "All you can do is control what you do, and if you're going about things the right way, you're living life the right way. With having so many different opinions on everybody, you can't please everyone.''