When Patrick Reed improved his lie by scraping sand from behind his ball (twice) that was cheating... with intent... but then he lied about it.
It's the lying that really gets to me.
I'm not lacking compassion for him, we all do silly things - repeatedly. Sometimes we even try and pretend a thing didn't happen. Anyone can be guilty of that - maybe we're ashamed of our weakness, or can't admit we're not perfect. That's part of the human condition.
But we try and be better. Because shame accumulates like mercury. It lingers in the blood, builds up and makes you sick. People can sense it - they can see you're not whole - even without knowing your history.
We're all burdened with some shame, it might be an inconsequential incident that nobody cares about but you, but the memory brings an instant flush of regret. Most people get a taste of that, decide it's not for them and try to lead honest lives.
What does it take to tamp down that shame? Reed may have some degree of cognitive dissonance to suppress his guilty feelings, but I don't go so far as to think he completely believes his own story. To do so would be to label him a sociopath.
I rather think he's someone accustomed to slipping the net - time and again playing on privilege with a brazen front, finding a narrow escape - reputation partly intact. Perhaps he has poor control over the impulse to cheat and maybe that's excusable. But the lying about it...
As they say - it's not the crime, it's the cover up. Repeating "I didn't do it" in the face of overwhelming evidence has become an adequate defence in modern times. And it's infuriating.
By carrying on this charade Reed is forcing others to play along with him. His fellow tour players have to decide if they're comfortable making an enemy of him - it's a sad and annoying distraction. The PGA Tour have taken a position - and it lacks backbone.
But this is just sport, nobody has died and Reed's career isn't beyond redemption. Tiger did some bad shit, hit rock bottom, then shed his facade and now you can see something extraordinary in his face - he's happy.
Reed on the other hand has the pinched look of someone hiding some deep shame. But he can make it right if he stops lying. Patrick Reed is an exceptional talent and I'd like to go back to playfully disliking him. Right now I just dislike him.