Golf Channel analyst and presenter Brandel Chamblee has been sent a cease-and-desist letter by an attorney representing Patrick Reed with the warning of refraining from branding the PGA TOUR star a cheat, it has been revealed.
The threat of a lawsuit was revealed by GolfWeek and follows the incident at the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas in December in which Reed was seen moving sand in a bunker during a practice swing.
Reed, who went on to finish in third place in the event, was handed a two-shot penalty after his rules violation during the third round, in which he was deemed to have improved his lie in a sandy waste area by flicking sand from behind his ball—not once, but twice—with practice swings.
After the days following the Hero World Challenge, Chamblee said live on air on the Golf Channel: “To defend what Patrick Reed did is to defend cheating.”
Reed subsequently played down the cheating claim when speaking at the Presidents Cup as he helped the United States to victory over the International team in Melbourne in Australia. Reed claimed: “If you do something unintentionally that breaks the rules, it’s not considered cheating.”
Now, however, Reed’s lawyers have gone in to bat for him with threats made to Chamblee to stop referring to the 2018 Masters winner as a cheat and further damaging his reputation.
According to a leak of a letter, lawyer Peter Ginsberg wrote: “The purpose of this letter is to obtain assurance that you will refrain from any further dissemination, publication or republication of false and defamatory statements concerning Mr. Reed, including any allegations that he ‘cheated’ at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
“As a professional golfer in a sport built on relationships and reputation, your broadcasts are incredibly damaging and have caused, and continue to cause, Mr. Reed significant emotional, reputational and pecuniary harm.
“Mr. Reed is prepared to accept your affirmative representations that you will comply with his demand that you desist from disseminating, publishing or republishing false and defamatory statements concerning Mr Reed.”
Chamblee responded to the letter, without referencing the Reed cheat claims directly. Instead, the Golf Channel presenter took the opportunity to comment on what he calls the “decaying traditions of the game”.
“The letter accuses flippant and reckless comments,” Chamblee told ESPN in his response to the letter. “My comments were weighed heavily before they came out of my mouth, and they were meant to address the larger issue of what I believe to be the decaying traditions of the game.
“This game has always had at its core the belief that self-governing gives the game its appeal. Inasmuch as we play the game for camaraderie. The self-governing tradition is slowly being replaced by a catch-me-if-you-can attitude.
“I think the whole golf world was watching how the Reed incident was treated. Including the young men and women who will soon be on their respective tours. If the catch-me-if-you-can attitude pervades junior golf, 10 years later it pervades professional golf and that concerns me. And was the origin of my remarks.”
But he later did comment on Reed directly in an interview with GolfWeek, saying: “My first reaction was that someone is so pissed at Patrick Reed that they went back and watched all the nice things I said about him when he won the Masters and was demanding I cease and desist saying nice things.
“As I read further and got to the sentence that the tape fully supported him, I wondered how did Patrick Reed find the only lawyer in the world who didn’t play golf?”
This one might rumble on.