Patrick Reed admitted the Presidents Cup has turned personal as he arrived in Australia facing backlash from fans and this week's opponent following a rules violation at the Hero World Challenge.
Reed found himself embroiled in controversy after improving his lie in a bunker on Friday that led to a two-shot penalty. Marc Leishman, one of the five veteran players on Team International, called on this week's home crowd in Melbourne to use Reed's gaffe as a rallying point.
Fellow Australian Cameron Smith took it even further, insinuating that Reed's actions equated to cheating.
"It's not the right word to use," Reed told reporters after Tuesday's practice round at Royal Melbourne. "Of course they are going to speak out, because they want to get their crowds going and get on their side. That's the name of the game. At the end of the day, all I can do is control what I can do and how I play, and so it doesn't matter who I'm playing on the other team."
Reed is no stranger to playing the villain role in international team events. He was dubbed "Captain America" after starring in the United States' victory over Europe in the 2016 Ryder Cup, but also called out teammates and coach Jim Furyk after last year's dramatic upset by the Europeans in Paris.
Reed admitted he feeds off the crowds in these events. When asked if the comments over the past few days have hurt him, Reed said: "It goes from wanting to beat those guys to it now turning personal, so it's going to be a fun week."
The former Masters champion typically plays more international events than his other fellow top Americans, enjoying traveling the world with his family. He's also often portrayed as a bit of an outsider who plays his best with a chip on his shoulder, although Reed insisted this U.S. team is closer after a long trip together following last week's event in the Bahamas.
Captain Tiger Woods said he had a "short and brief" conversation with Reed about the controversy on Monday, but did not directly answer a question about whether it will impact how many matches Reed plays in. The two played Tuesday's round together, with Reed saying the fans were fired up but "great."
"I mean, it's always great playing with Tiger, because he kind of frees you up," Reed said. "You know, everyone's focused on what Tiger's doing.
"The good thing is whenever you're playing with Tiger, you are also learning a lot. Not just on the golf course, but kind of a way to think around golf courses, etc., especially at places like this where you've never seen before."
The fans' vocal barbs toward Reed figure to increase as the week moves on. He enjoyed some good-natured "banter" with his teammates.
"It's all in good fun. We needle each other all the time but it's never anything personal," teammate Justin Thomas told reporters. "There's a handful or I would say a group of guys in the world that can play really well pissed off and he's one of them. And that's another person kind of like Tiger. And I'm glad to have him on my team because if he has a 15-footer to win a match, I'm glad that he's on my side."
--Field Level Media