RYDER Cup star Patrick Reed has apologised for an "unacceptable" foul-mouthed outburst on the opening day of the WGC-HSBC Champions Event in Shanghai but is still set to be punished by the PGA Tour.
While playing partner Graeme McDowell claimed a two-shot lead with a five-under-par 67 at Sheshan International - despite dropping two shots in the last six holes - Reed was turning the air blue.
Reed was just four off the pace after a round of 71, but the American faces a hefty fine after being caught on camera not only swearing at himself, but also using language which could be interpreted as homophobic.
Television commentators swiftly apologised after Reed was clearly heard saying "Nice f******* three-putt you f****** f****t," after a bogey on the first hole, his 10th of the day.
Ironically, Reed also attracted attention on his Ryder Cup debut at Gleneagles for indicating to the crowd to keep quiet by putting a finger to his lips during his singles win over Henrik Stenson.
The 24-year-old took to Twitter to show contrition later in the day, writing: "I'm sorry for using offensive language today in China. My passion to play well got the best of me and my word choice was unacceptable."
Reed's apology may help mitigate his moment of indiscretion, but he is still likely to find himself on the wrong side of the Tour's disciplinary rules.
A PGA Tour spokesperson said: "The PGA Tour's Conduct Unbecoming regulations prohibit the use of obscene language on the golf course. The PGA Tour will deal with this matter internally in accordance with its regulations."
The PGA Tour has a policy of not disclosing any disciplinary sanctions it issues.
McDowell began on the back nine and played his first 12 holes in seven under par. But he then failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker on the fourth and paid the price for what he called "a comedy of errors" on the par-five eighth, where he missed his only fairway of the day and also pulled his approach left of the green.
"A big key to this golf course is driving the ball well," McDowell said. "I drove it very well today. I think I missed only one fairway, which is very important and the greens are in fantastic shape and I actually putted very well.
"Seven under par through 12 holes was a beautiful start. I dropped a couple coming in, but all in all, I am very, very pleased with five under par on what I thought was a reasonably tricky day.
"This is as tough off the tee as I think I've ever seen this golf course. Obviously it was very low scoring here last year (Dustin Johnson won on 24 under par). The rough was fairly thick last year, but it played so much softer and effectively, the fairways played wider and the greens were so much more receptive."