Reed closing in on becoming a top-five player
January 06, 2016
- Patrick Reed is the fifth player in the past 20 years to win four times by age 25. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- The date was March 9, 2014, and Patrick Reed had just won the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship for his third victory in seven months.
The day before, following a third-round 69 to take a two-shot lead through 54 holes, Reed said in an interview with NBC, “I firmly believe, as well as my swing coach and my whole team that’s behind me, that I’m a top-five player in the world.”
At the time, he was just 23 years old, ranked 44th in the Official World Golf Ranking (moving up to 20th after the win) and the audacious remark sent shock waves through the golf world, a place where such bravado stands out.
Fast forward to this week’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Reed is the defending champion and a lot closer to being that top-5 player. He’s currently 10th in the world after six consecutive top-10s around the globe. Reed has finished runner-up in two of his past three starts.
His victory last year on the Plantation Course was the fourth of his career and put him in rare air as he became the fourth player in the last 20 years to win four times by age 25. The others: Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy. (Jordan Spieth has since added his name to the list.)
Yet when discussing the game’s brightest young stars, Reed’s name is often passed over for Spieth, McIlroy, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler. Rightly so. The first three are all major champions and the top three players in the Official World Golf Ranking. All three have held the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.
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Spieth, Day and Fowler all finished in the top four of last season’s FedExCup, as well, with Spieth capping off his dream year by hoisting the trophy. Fowler, currently sixth in the world, won last year’s PLAYERS Championship and Deutsche Bank Championship, as well as the Scottish Open. In 2014, he finished in the top 5 at all four majors.
“Not getting mentioned with those guys, it’s not my decision,” Reed said. “I won four times by 25 and I’ve been out here shorter than Rory, shorter than Rickie, Jordan’s been out here about the same time. It’s all opinion, it’s based on what the media wants to say, not numbers.”
Added Reed’s wife Justine: “And if they don’t like you they may not mention you.”
Reed says he has somehow been painted as a villainous figure in golf but adds that is far from who he is.
“When people really get to know me they say that’s not like you at all,” says Reed, who adds that he received a letter from PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem thanking him for how he has conducted himself and interacted during pro-ams.
Undeniable, however, is the chip that Reed willingly carries on his shoulder. He uses it inside the ropes as a way to hone his competitive focus. “If you don’t, (negativity) will affect you, your game and your family,” says Justine.
It shouldn’t be confused with who he is as person, though, Reed says. Much of his perspective has also changed over the last 18 months. Reed became a father in May 2014 and went through a harrowing experience in December of that year when Justine suffered a seizure while taking a bath. She nearly drowned.
“Before I played golf for myself and my wife,” he said. “Now having a little baby and with what happened last year with finding Justine in the tub, everything’s completely changed now.”
Not everything. Reed is still focused on trying to reach No. 1 in the world.
The numbers don’t lie. Spieth, McIlroy, Day and Fowler have been better, but Reed isn’t far behind. No one has been more consistent since the end of October, and last season he showed a level of consistency he previously hadn’t reached, missing just two cuts in 27 starts on TOUR.
It still wasn’t good enough for Reed.
“I wasn’t pleased with my year,” he said. “I play golf tournaments to win.”
Reed reunited with Josh Gregory last fall. Gregory coached Reed at Augusta State, where they led the Jaguars to the 2010 and 2011 NCAA titles. In reuniting with Gregory, Reed found a level of familiarity, comfort and simplicity in approach.
“I was hitting the ball well (under former coach Kevin Kirk) but the results didn’t really show it,” Reed said. “It felt natural going back to (Josh) and now to have him working with us I’ve seen huge differences. What we did with Kevin really worked, but I felt I needed and extra kick-start to get to the next level.”
Over the last few months, all facets of Reed’s game have improved and it has shown in the results.
He also plans to continue his European Tour membership for a second straight year, which will mean a full schedule -- particularly in a year with the Olympics and Ryder Cup, both of which are inherently important to the uber-patriotic Reed.
Reed says he wants to be a global player and the best on the planet. Once chided for his top-5 remark, he’s not far from attaining that goal now.
“The main thing is not to get a big head and not let up,” Reed said. “You see a lot of guys who are one-win wonders. They win once and feel like they’ve found it and stop practicing as hard and don’t have anything to chase.
“The good thing with me is I’m never satisfied. When I shot three 63s in a row (on his way to winning the 2014 Humana Challenge) everyone thought it was the greatest thing that ever happened. I wasn’t satisfied. I could go through each round, and pick out shots I didn’t make. Those are the things that stick in my mind. That keeps me from letting up.”
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