Reed caddie sacked for shoving heckler
US golfer Patrick Reed's caddie has been sacked from the Presidents Cup for attacking a heckler at Royal Melbourne.
Tournament chiefs last night removed Kessler Karain, Reed's brother-in-law, from the American's bag for today's final round.
Karain admitted to "shoving" a fan who had sledged the world No.12 near the 16th green.
"I respect the Tour's decision," Reed said last night.
"We are all focused on winning the Presidents Cup."
But US captain Tiger Woods said he believed alcohol was a factor in the raucous nature of the crowd, and that some fans had gone overboard.
"There's people who have had a lot to drink and have gone over the top," Woods said.
"All I ask for with all the galleries is be excited but be respectful of the players. All 24 of us."
Reed has been a lightning rod for spectator abuse this week after being caught moving sand behind his ball during a tournament in the Bahamas.
Karain said he was riding on a golf cart when he heard the fan yell out to Reed, 'you f---ing suck'.
"I got off the cart and shoved him, said a couple things, probably a few expletives," Karain admitted.
"Security came and I got back in (the) cart and left. I don't think there's one caddie I know that could blame me. The most harm done was a little spilt beer, which I'm more than happy to reimburse him for."
Looks like this video shows the end of Patrick Reed’s caddie and fan altercation. pic.twitter.com/KZWwt9y7Je— By The Flagstick (@ByTheFlagstick) December 14, 2019
Footage captured by fans in the aftermath showed police ushering Karain back to his cart.
Reed, picked by US captain Tiger Woods to play in Melbourne, has been sledged mercilessly by the Royal Melbourne galleries since his first practice round on Tuesday.
Australian golfing great Greg Norman added fuel to the fire by declaring he was "repulsed" by the American's actions.
Aussie young gun Cameron Smith also encouraged spectators to give it to Reed on the eve of the Cup.
"I don't have any sympathy for anyone that cheats," Smith said.
"I hope the crowd absolutely gives it to not only him, but everyone (on the American team)."
In defending his decision to confront the spectator, Karain, the brother of Reed's wife Justine, said: "As a caddie one of your jobs is to protect your player. And unlike several other sports, in golf, fans can get pretty close to athletes.
"We have been known for having fun with some good banter, but after hearing several fans in Australia for three days some had taken it too far.
"I had had enough. And this gentleman was one of them."
Reed, winner of the 2018 US Masters at Augusta, will play C. T. Pan in today's singles.
Ernie Els' International team go into today's final round of matches with a 10-8 lead over Woods' America.
Asked if the Melbourne crowds had gone too far, Woods said: "It has happened. Have people said things that have been over the top? Yes.
"I've heard it. I've been in the groups playing when it has happened, and I've been inside the ropes as a captain today witnessing it."
Woods said the tight nature of Royal Melbourne created "bottlenecks" of fans.
"There's obviously some yelling," he said.
"Bipartisanship is part of playing in team matches, whether you're home or on the road; it's part of the deal. As long as, you know, the fans are respectful, and that's all we ask is for them to be respectful, and hopefully they will be excited tomorrow and into the matches and be very respectful of all the players."
The 15-time major winner said the US team had "rallied" around Reed.
"We came here as a team. We rallied around our teammate and we are excited about tomorrow," he said.
Woods' counterpart Ernie Els - who said he "felt" for the fan attacked by Karain - conceded that the crowd had been "boisterous" but said his team and Woods had copped far worse in previous years.
He said players just had to cop it on the chin.
"I've played in the US many times. If you look back at New York and how these players were treated (in 2017), this crowd is pretty quiet," Els said.
"There's some heckling going on and we all know that, and you prepare for that, and that's just the way it goes.
"We shut up and we get on with things. That's what we did in New York. So it's part of the game. And I'm with Tiger; I absolutely, I'm against heckling. I'm against crowds being disrespectful to the players, but it happens. We as professionals, we move on.
"This Aussie crowd, okay, they got a little bit boisterous this afternoon with a couple of beers, but which crowd doesn't? You take it and you move on."
Els admitted he felt for both the caddie and fan in question.
"The caddie must have been very hot," Els said.
"Obviously fed up with what he heard, probably. I feel for the fan. He came to watch golf, and, you know, that's probably the last thing he thought was going to happen. So I feel for both of them."
REED CRUMBLES UNDER SLEDGING BARRAGE
Tiger Woods backed him to fire, but Patrick Reed's Presidents Cup has unravelled.
Reed was benched for Saturday's afternoon session and faces another Heineken-fuelled barrage from fans when he tees off in the singles on Sunday.
The American bad boy has slumped to 0-3 for the week, failing to win a single hole in his morning match with Webb Simpson.
The US duo was smoked 5&3 by Japan's Hideki Matsuyama and Chinese Taipei's C.T Pan in a one-sided contest that ended in a clash between Reed's caddie and a patron.
Asked if he was second-guessing himself over his decision to pair Reed and Simpson three times for three losses, US captain Tiger Woods said: "No, they just ran into some guys that played well, made crucial putts at certain times.
"Today, they just didn't play well, and that happens.
"But the last two matches, it just comes to a crucial putt here and there."
Reed was a captain's pick by Woods this week, a gamble in itself after his messy Ryder Cup fallout with teammates in Paris last year.
But the controversy surrounding last week's Bahamas brainfade, where he was penalised two shots for shifting sand behind his ball, has become a runaway distraction for the American team.
"Of course we're going to be asked (about Reed). But when it comes right down to it, we'll just get ready to play and play," Woods declared last week.
"Whatever Patrick has put out there, he's focused like he is in every Cup, he just goes out and gets his point. Next week will be no different."
Reed knew what to expect, turning up at Royal Melbourne with a putter cover depicting himself silencing the crowd.
But the relentless baiting and sledging from the stands has got the better of him (and his caddie) so far.
The world No.12 has one last chance to turn it around and deliver on his captain's faith.