Rory McIlroy on Patrick Reed: ‘It’s almost like a hobby [for people] to kick him when he’s down’

Patrick Reed is catching a lot of criticism this week after a deliberate rules violation at the Hero World Challenge on Friday in The Bahamas, one that is sure to follow him to Australia this week for the Presidents Cup.

Friday’s incident was not the first time Reed has found himself in the middle of a cheating controversy, either — something that Rory McIlroy, the current No. 2 ranked golfer in the world and reigning FedExCup champion, thinks makes Reed even more of a target.

“I don’t think it would be a big deal if it wasn’t Patrick Reed,” McIlroy said, via the Golf Channel. “It’s almost like, a lot of people within the game, it’s almost like a hobby to sort of kick him when he’s down.”

Reed picked up a two-stroke penalty in the third round of the Hero World Challenge last week after he deliberately hit the sand with his club twice while taking practice swings in a bunker, marking a very clear and obvious rule violation. 

Reed wasn’t very apologetic after the round, either, and actually blamed the penalty on the Golf Channel cameras that were filming the tournament — which naturally drew more criticism, even from his fellow Tour pros.

“If you make a mistake maybe once, you could maybe understand, but to give a bulls--t response like [blaming] the camera angle … that’s pretty up there,” Cameron Smith said on Sunday.

While he isn’t approving of what Reed did, McIlroy doesn’t think there was malicious intent behind the move — especially when watching the play live instead of in slow motion.

“I think the live shot isn’t as incriminating as the slow-mo,” McIlroy said, via the Golf Channel. “It’s hard, because you try to give the player the benefit of the doubt, right? He’s in there, he’s trying to figure out what way to play the shot.”

“It’s almost like it’s obliviousness to it rather than anything intentful, in terms of trying to get away with anything.”

Many expect that fans attending the Presidents Cup this week at Royal Melbourne to give Reed a hard time about the incident, too. Smith even encouraged fans to ‘give it’ to him.

Reed — who was a captain’s pick for the U.S. Team in the biennial event — insists he isn’t worried about any fan response. There isn’t anything that could be said or done, he said, that would “derail me at the end of the day.”

McIlroy, however, believes things will be much harder down under for the seven-time Tour winner.

“It’s going to make things really difficult for him down in Australia,” McIlroy said, via the Golf Channel.

After a cheating incident in The Bahamas last week, Rory McIlroy addressed the latest scandal around Patrick Reed heading into the Presidents Cup. (David Cannon/Getty Images)

More from Yahoo Sports: