“HAVING TO SHOOT UNDER PAR IN THE FINAL ROUND TO WIN YOUR FIRST MAJOR WAS HARD”
Patrick Reed reflects on his final round and what it means to clinch his first major.
GW: How difficult was it playing the final round against Rory knowing that a worldclass field was right behind you?.
PR: Today was definitely the hardest that a round of golf could possibly be mentally. At The Ryder Cup, it’s just a totally different type of pressure. You go to a Ryder Cup and you feel like you have a whole nation on your back. You know that if you win or lose your match, you still have a bunch of other guys there that could pick it up. Listening to all the analysts, every single one of them picked Rory over me except Notah Begay. Thanks, Notah. Appreciate it. You’re my boy (laughs).
It just seemed like the pressure at that point was lifted off. I expect myself to go out and win but it seemed like everyone else was saying how great I was playing all week, how very impressed they were, but come Saturday night and Sunday morning, they were like, ‘Oh, well, even though we said all these great things about how he’s playing, we think Rory’s going to win.’
Going into today it felt like, ‘Well, OK, that takes off a little bit of that pressure off and I can just go out and try to play golf.’ That kind of fit into the motto that I was trying to do all week – just go out and play golf. It’s harder to do that than I thought.
Rory had a chance to tie you on the second hole. Jordan caught you at one point and Rickie posted a number. How important was it for you to maintain at least a share of that lead?
It was huge, mainly with Rickie and with Rory, because Rickie was in the group in front and Rory was playing with me. I knew if Jordan made some birdies, he was far enough ahead that when he went on his run, as long as I could keep it at least tied with him, he would run out of holes and I would have more birdie opportunities coming in.
But the way those guys played towards the end – Jordan shooting 64 and Rickie shooting 67– having to shoot under par in the final round to win your first major was hard. It was awesome and satisfying to make the clutch putts on the back nine. After feeling like I wasn’t really making anything all day, to make that one on 12 for birdie seemed to give me that momentum and belief going into the last couple that, no matter what they throw at me, I can do this and have a chance.
Do you wish you were more popular with the fans, or is it something you’ve turned to your advantage?
No, I don’t think it’s really as much a popularity thing with the fans as it is that Rory has been in this position here before to win. He’s played some really solid golf here. A lot of people are wanting him to get that career Grand Slam. It’s just nature, and honestly to me, it was just go out there and play golf. Overseas, the fans cheer for good golf no matter what. It’s the same thing here. If you hit quality golf shots, they are going to cheer.
But if two guys hit the same exact shots, whoever is the home guy is going to get louder cheers. For Rory being in position and trying to win here in the past, and you know, having some success here, it didn’t surprise me that the fans were cheering for him in the beginning.
What did you think held you back initially at majors? It took you a very long time just to get a top 10??
The biggest thing was I put too much pressure on myself. 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 mindset the entire week, 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.
Looking back, do you regret in any way making the comment a few years ago that you were a “top-5 player” or did you just validate it today?
Honestly, I don’t ever regret anything I really say. I stand by my comments. I feel like I’ve played some golf that I need to play in order to get to where I want to be – and that’s to be the best golfer in the world. The way you’re going to do that is perform in these big events and to win these big events.
I’m just happy to be up here and be able to say I’ve gotten over that hump of not winning at all last year, coming into a year where one of my biggest goals was to win a major and compete in golf tournaments. To be able to get them both at once, to end the drought and win a major, it helps me mentally, and also helps my resumé. Hopefully I can just take this momentum going forward and play some really solid golf.
‘I knew if Jordan made some birdies as long as I could keep it at least tied with him, he’d eventually run out of holes’