REED DOES IT HIS WAY
Patrick Reed once bragged he was one of the top-five players in the world. Now, with a green jacket and a major win to his name, he has fast-tracked closer to achieving that goal.
Patrick Reed wasn’t the most popular Masters champion, but he certainly deserved to leave Augusta National wearing the green jacket, explains Brendan James.
When Sergio Garcia brought 18 years of major championship heartache to a close at Augusta National last year, the thousands of patrons that surrounded the 18th green clapped and cheered the Spaniard like he was one of their own.
For Patrick Reed, who is nicknamed Captain America for his Ryder Cup heroics, the reception was more subdued. The 27-year-old rolled in his par putt from just beyond three feet to claim the 82nd Masters and erupted into a fist pump, roaring, ‘yeah!’. The gallery rose to its feet as the ball dropped into the cup, they cheered his success but with far less enthusiasm than has been seen with Garcia, Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott in recent years.
Reed might have won the green jacket but he’s yet to win the hearts and minds of the American golf fan. There are the well-publicised allegations of cheating in practice rounds at college as well as other indiscretions that saw him expelled from the University of Georgia and move to Augusta State University, where he gained a reputation for his brash and often abrasive nature, despite leading the college to two NCAA Division 1 titles.
He has been a polarising figure since joining the PGA Tour full time five years ago, not only among fans but also his fellow Tour players with several of his Ryder Cup team mates admitting they don’t
really know him because he rarely, if ever, plays practice rounds with other players.
The Texan-born, Augusta-bred Reed should have had the lion’s share of support pulling for him in the final round. Sadly, he didn’t.
Reed slept on a three-stroke lead after 54 holes and was paired in the final group with his nearest pursuer, Rory McIlroy, who was aiming to become just the sixth player to win the career Grand Slam of modern majors. Shortly before their 2:30 tee time, Reed made his way to the 1st tee and received respectful applause from the patrons standing six and seven deep outside the ropes. A few moments later, Rory emerged from the clubhouse and was welcomed onto the tee like a rock star taking the stage.
It was a moment that would ultimately help Reed focus on the task at hand. He wasn’t there to win a popularity contest; he was at Augusta to win the Masters.
“I walked up to the first tee and had a really welcoming cheer from the fans, but then when Rory walked up to the tee, you know, his cheer was a little louder,” Reed said after the final round.
“But that’s another thing that just kind of played into my hand. Not only did it fuel my fire a little bit, but also, it just takes the pressure o of me and adds it back to him.
I JUST KIND OF WENT OUT THERE AND JUST TRIED TO PLAY GOLF THE BEST I COULD AND TRIED TO STAY IN THE MOMENT AND NOT WORRY ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE. – PATRICK REED
“I think that’s the biggest thing is going into a Sunday, especially trying to win, for me trying to win my first; for him, trying to win the career Grand Slam, it’s who is going to handle the pressure and who is going to have more pressure on them.
“Honestly, I felt like a lot of that pressure was kind of lifted and kind of taken o of me. The fans, yes, were cheering for me, but some of them were cheering more for Rory.
“At the same time, you had a lot of the guys picking him to win over me, and it’s just kind of one of those things that the more kind of chatter you have in your ear and about expectations and everything, the harder it is to play golf.
“I just kind of went out there and just tried to play golf the best I could and tried to stay in the moment and not worry about everything else.”
He was certainly in the zone during the first three rounds, posting rounds of 69-66-67 to reach 14 under with 18 holes to play. McIlroy was three shots back and Rickie Fowler was a further two strokes behind him. In many respects, the green jacket was Reed’s to lose.
But as he has shown in his two Ryder Cup campaigns, he’s a tough competitor. As one writer suggested: “Patrick Reed is tougher than a Wae House pork chop.” That’s pretty tough.
His downfall in past major championships had been wilting under the self-imposed pressure of expectation. This time was dierent.
“The biggest thing was I put too much pressure
on myself,” Reed said. “I went out there and I tried so hard to get the ball in the hole. I tried so hard to hit the perfect shots, that going into this week, I was just like, ‘hey, it’s golf. Go play.’
“I preached that to myself the entire week. I had my caddie remind me of that the entire week. Just be you. Play golf. If you get riled up, show it. If you aren’t happy about something, it’s all right. Just play golf.
“I was able to stay in that kind of mind-set the entire week, and especially through the first three rounds. I haven’t really had much success in shooting low rounds out here at Augusta, and to be able to shoot three of my lowest rounds the first three days, it showed a lot. I knew because of that coming into today, that I really had a really good chance to win a golf tournament.”
Even when McIlroy cut his lead to one stroke early, Reed stuck to his guns. Whenever he dropped a shot, he bounced right back at the next hole with a birdie.
Birdies at the 12th and 14th holes pushed him to 15 under and his nearest chasers were running out of holes.
Ahead, Jordan Spieth went on a tear and, for a few minutes, had a share of the lead with his Ryder Cup partner. A bogey at the 72nd hole saw the 2015 Masters Champion card a closing 64 and set the clubhouse mark at 13 under. A short time later, Fowler, playing in the penultimate group, moved the mark to 14 under with his birdie at the last for a 67.
Reed took it all in his stride. Needing a par to claim the green jacket and his first major title, he drove short of the fairway bunkers on the left and hit a pure 7-iron over the flag that saw his ball stop in the fringe about 20 feet away. He trickled his first putt down to four feet and calmly rolled in his par putt moments later. As Reed would say later, it was a childhood dream come true.
“Everyone always dreams about winning Augusta, winning the Masters,” Reed said. “Every time you think about it as a kid growing up, it’s always, you know, this putt is to win a green jacket; this putt’s to win the Masters.
“I think that’s just because of the history and everything that’s gone on here at Augusta National and how special it is to all the golfers and special it is to just golf in general around the world.”
Reed might not have been the most popular choice to win the Masters, but no one can deny he deserves his green jacket for the quality of golf he played for all four days. He didn’t lead any of the statistics categories, but he led where it counted most … on the leaderboard.
Patrick Reed lets out a roar after making his four-footer at the final hole to win.
Rickie Fowler plucks his ball from the hole after a 72nd hole birdie got him within one shot of leader Reed.