United States captain Tiger Woods is confident Patrick Reed can overcome a recent cheating controversy to play a part in his team’s Presidents Cup campaign.
Woods is refusing to be drawn on how much he will play Reed throughout the tournament in the wake of an incident that sparked condemnation for the American across the golfing world.
Already a divisive figure in the sport, Reed is set to play the role of villain at Royal Melbourne this week after he was penalised for illegally improving his lie during the World Challenge in the Bahamas last week.
Patrick Reed gets busted cheating at the Hero World Challenge pic.twitter.com/r25cE6zenE— Viral Sports (@NotScTop10plays) December 6, 2019
Woods says Reed is well supported by his team and expects the world No.12 to handle any extra pressure from the Internationals and from raucous local fans.
Nicknamed "Captain America" for his success in the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup, Reed is a proven performer on the big stage - winning last year's Masters and runner-up at the 2017 PGA Championship.
Woods downplayed the cheating incident, saying he had spoken briefly with Reed about it and they had moved on.
"I think Pat will be fine," Woods said on Tuesday, before his team's first practice round.
"Pat is a great kid.
"He's handled a tough upbringing well and I just think that he's one of our best team players, and that's one of the reasons why all the guys wanted him on the team."
However, Woods deferred a question about how he plans to use Reed this week.
Players are required to play a minimum of two matches, which get underway with fourball contests on Thursday.
Those pairings will be announced on Wednesday afternoon.
Two of the International team's Australians, Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman, both expected local fans at Royal Melbourne to give Reed a hard time.
Aussies predict rough treatment for Reed
A blunt Smith said he wanted the crowd to "give it" to the entire American team, which has dominated the biennial tournament since a tied result in 2003.
"I don't have any sympathy for anyone that cheats," Smith said during last week's Australian Open in Sydney.
Woods conceded Reed would be a target but he hoped the crowd was fair.
"I'm sure someone is going to say something out there," Woods said.
"But I think in general, all the times I've been to Australia and have played here the fans have been fantastic.
"They are going to come out and it's going to be bi-partisan, as it should be.
"They are going to root for the Internationals more so than us and there's nothing wrong with that."