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.

Golf Australia - - CONTENTS - WORDS by BREN­DAN JAMES AT AU­GUSTA NA­TIONAL GC PHO­TOG­RA­PHY GETTY IMAGES

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 oŒ 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 oŒ 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 Wa™e 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 diŒer­ent.

“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.

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