PATRICK REED is to be disciplined by the PGA Tour after the Ryder Cup star's foul-mouthed outburst over his own inept putting was caught on live television during the first round of the HSBC Champions here at Sheshan.
As playing partner Graeme McDowell surged into a two-shot lead, the controversial US Ryder Cup star was picked up by microphones beside the first green cursing himself in language that could be construed as homophobic.
Although the PGA Tour refuses to give details on sanctions against its players, Reed's punishment is likely to be a substantial five-figure fine after he could be clearly heard on a TV feed saying: "Nice f--king three-putt, you f--king f*****."
He had just dropped a shot at the first hole, which he played as his 10th after yesterday's shotgun start, and while he finished only four shots behind McDowell after a 71, he faces stern action. The tour confirmed in a statement that it would "deal with a matter internally" after indicating that the 25-year-old had breached its rules on appropriate conduct.
Reed might be the heir presumptive of US golf, but he is also increasingly its enfant terrible. His loud-mouthed actions most memorably landed him in trouble at the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, where he responded to one Scottish spectator's slur on his putting abilities by motioning to the partisan crowd to keep quiet.
Whether he is bracketing himself among the world's top five players, or comparing his strident style to that of Ian Poulter, the 24-year-old Texan cannot help but provoke.
Ever since the American Ryder Cup defeat, in which he was arguably the one saving grace, Reed has gladly embraced the role of the villain, turning up for last month's World Match Play Championship at the London Club in an all-black outfit. Justine, his equally outlandish wife, wandered through the crowd in a head-to-toe stars-and-stripes ensemble.
His latest transgression, though, means he is almost certain to be made an example of by the PGA Tour, who are keen to prove a point that homophobic slurs will not be tolerated. Frank Nobilo of the Golf Channel immediately apologised to viewers for Reed's tirade, as Reed took to Twitter to admit that his choice of words had been "unacceptable".
Few could be happier than World No 1 Rory McIlroy as his fellow Ulsterman, McDowell, extended his stunning record at Sheshan.
Runaway Race to Dubai leader McIlroy's prospects of winning the European Tour's 'Order of Merit' for the second time in three years will be strongly boosted if GMac manages to build on his superb first round 67.
McDowell moved to an astonishing 44-under par for 10 rounds at Sheshan with this five-under effort, which must rank as his best round on a course playing tougher now than for the two most recent visits of this WGC (last year and in 2011), when he twice finished third.
With the rough bordering its fairways and greens deeper and thicker than ever before; cold and capricious breezes blowing and the greens fast and firm, Sheshan was a real grind.
Of course, this placed it right up former US Open Champ McDowell's alley, especially as he drove his ball straight into the heart of 13 of 14 fairways and sank a spectacular array of putts.
McDowell, who "got off to a flyer" as he played his first 12 holes in seven-under before leaking shots at the teasing par three fourth and the long and demanding eighth, effectively was keeping McIlroy's closest rivals in the Race to Dubai at bay.
As he approaches the end of an epic year, the Holywood star skipped the first three events in Europe's 'Final Series' and is not scheduled to return to action until the Race to Dubai climax, the DP World Tour Championship, in a fortnight's time.
Shane Lowry neatly summed up the thoughts of many when, within minutes of the shocking first round 78 that left him wallowing in 71st place, 11 behind McDowell, the Clara man tweeted: "Wow! That was fairly bad today. Suppose things can only get better from here."
Lowry opened with bogey on the difficult first hole and dropped five shots in five holes to the turn to match the front nine 41 accumulated by his playing companion Matt Jones. He hit nine of 14 fairways and just 11 greens in regulation, visiting the dense rough too often to score well.
However, the hashtag 'onwards ever upwards' indicated Ireland's World No 51 had not given up on achieving the top-20 finish that would propel him one vital rung into golf's global elite.
McIlroy's decision not to play this week's World Golf Championship cost JP Fitzgerald the '2014 Caddie of the Year' title. One condition of this annual award is that the winner must be in action in Shanghai. So the prize went to top Scottish caddie Craig Connolly, who was at Martin Kaymer's side as the German became the first golfer to win The Players and US Open in the same season.