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To Win a Defamation of Character Suit, Patrick Reed Would Need Character To Begin With

The 2018 Masters champ has long embraced being golf's black hat, even through multiple alleged cheating incidents. And now Reed's suing Golf Channel for calling him out on it?
Patrick Reed is pictured at the 2022 LIV Golf event in Portland, Oregon.

Patrick Reed has won nine times on the PGA Tour including the 2018 Masters, but allegations of cheating have followed him nearly every step of the way.

Patrick Reed is suing Golf Channel for defamation of character? What kind of character has the network actually defamed? That’s the biggest question here, not whether the nine-time winner in 10 PGA Tour seasons will see a dime of the $750 million he’s seeking in damages, or whether the Tour itself aspired to make Reed’s life miserable inside the ropes—or if television analyst Brandel Chamblee invoked malicious intent when suggesting Reed was a “murderer” through his affiliation with LIV Golf.

Yes, that’s a mouthful. Most lawsuits are. Lots of big words, plenty of tawdry accusations and not enough fingers on both hands to cast the blame at all the supposedly guilty parties. Having projected himself as a man emotionally immune to criticism, a guy who tunes out all the negativity and goes about the business of winning big golf tournaments more successfully than most, Reed has decided that his feelings have indeed been hurt, his pride wounded and his commercial value compromised to the point where considerable financial compensation is in order.

Imagine that. Sticks and stones will break his bones, but names will make him three-quarters of a billion.

As many who follow the game closely are fully aware, Reed has been wearing a black Stetson for most of his career—even longer if you trace the history back to his collegiate days at Augusta State. The charges levied at Chamblee resonate metaphorically as a lifetime achievement award. Retaliation through litigation, although the dark hat always fit him perfectly. If Reed hasn’t been a fully documented troublemaker, there are several hundred people who have known him over the years that will help you draw up the paperwork.

He seemed to take pride in his villainous image. Winning the 2018 Masters should have changed his life for the better, and fiscally it surely did, but less than two days after sliding his arms inside the green jacket, revelations of Reed’s estranged family situation were first reported by longtime golf writer Alan Shipnuck. Never mind that Bill and Jeanette Reed’s only son couldn’t win for losing, even in his finest hour. And just like that, validation of the kid’s reputation became public knowledge, even if the feud itself was almost six years old, stemming from his parents’ disapproval of Patrick’s marriage to current wife Justine.

It was a chain of suspicious incidents involving Reed and his golf ball, however, that smudged his image with a mark no eraser can fully eradicate. The 2019 Hero World Challenge. The 2021 Farmers Insurance Open. Three months later at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Longtime CBS on-course analyst Peter Kostis, a man who has witnessed more shots struck by tour pros from close proximity than anyone on earth, has testified to seeing Reed violate rules on multiple occasions, specifically at the Waste Management Open in Phoenix.

By the way, the Tour has already eliminated Reed’s entire profile from its website, as if he never existed, much less win nine of its tournaments and over $37 million in his 10 years at the doughnut shop. There’s something creepy about such an action, kind of like appearing to improve your lie on national television in a game where cheaters are treated like, well, Chamblee said it on the air just last week.

The compilation of evidence does not convict Reed of anything whatsoever. His only official run-in with the Tour came when he was fined for muttering a derogatory slur that was picked up by a television microphone a few years back. He’s smug. Contemptuous. Defiant to the point where it has a profound effect on how the public perceives him, but if Patrick Nathaniel Reed truly believes that all the profanities directed at him from galleries over the years weren’t of his own doing—a common reaction to his own unacceptable behavior—he’s also in dire need of a hypnotist.

Somebody who can get to the bottom of all this, even if it requires inducing a trance or moving a few tons of dirt.

Reed may not go looking for trouble, but he carries himself like a guy who does. The repercussions from such deportment can be severe, and from there, a proverbial chip on the shoulder can turn into a life-shaping crater. Beyond ludicrous, his allegation that the Tour had it out for him from the day he earned his playing privileges is reflective of someone who invents conflict for the purpose of feeding his own tormented soul.

The most serious of his charges in the defamation suit is the one involving Chamblee. Reed’s lawyers have acted irresponsibly in taking the analyst’s use of the word “murderer”—an obvious reference to the Saudi government that subsidizes LIV Golf—and turning it into an accusation that Reed himself did the killing. It’s a legally reprehensible implication, a misrepresentation of fact and just plain stupid.

The problem with attorneys is that they make a lot of money to come up with such stuff, so they turn the art of fabrication into an industry. Although the Golf Channel in general has been strongly critical of LIV, mostly based on what it perceives as having a negative impact on the game, Reed simply has no judicial basis in claiming the network has harmed him personally or weakened his financial status.

You want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Reed did all of that to himself. Case closed.