Defending Humana champ Patrick Reed opens up about the 'Top 5' comment, his wife's scary incident and much more
January 20, 2015
By Brian Wacker , PGATOUR.COM
Patrick Reed is one of just four players in the last 20 years to win four times on the PGA TOUR by the age of 25 -- Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia are the others. He started 2015 off with a bang, winning the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in a playoff against Jimmy Walker.
As much noise as Reed has made with his clubs, he also doesn’t shy away from speaking his mind. What makes him tick? Fresh off his win at Kapalua and before defending his title at this week's Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, he spoke with PGATOUR.COM's Brian Wacker to talk about his infamous "Top 5" comment, wearing red and black, the Ryder Cup and the scariest day of his life.
PGATOUR.COM: A lot was made of your “Top 5” comment after winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship last year. Was it blown out of proportion or is there some part of you that really meant it?
PATRICK REED: It did get blown out of proportion, yes. But that is really one of the main goals – to get to that point. But I know it takes time. It’s a two-year process. You need to make sure you win and continue to play well and hopefully I can continue moving forward and being consistent to get to where I want to be, which is one of the best players in the world.
PGATOUR.COM: What was the reaction from your peers after that?
REED: No one really said anything. The only people who did were the media because it gave them something to write about. All I could do, though, was work on my game to get more consistent and get back to the winner’s circle. And the fact that I was able to show that what we’re working on is the right thing to get to where we want.
PGATOUR.COM: You’ve never been one to not speak your mind. Is that something you do for confidence or is it just your personality?
REED: I’ve always been that way. I just try to be honest and say what I believe. Sometimes it gets me in trouble and sometimes it doesn’t. But I’ve learned from it, too. I felt like the whole “Top 5” comment got spun a little bit.
Peter Kostis breaks down Patrick Reed's swing
PGATOUR.COM: The only other players in the last 20 years to win four times by age 25 on the PGA TOUR are Tiger, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia. Has that sunk in, or was it something you always expected and the rest of us are just catching on?
REED: Anytime any of us tee it up we’re trying to win the event. For me to be able to do it four times is just pretty special. Each time I just try to evaluate what I need to do improve each week. I set little goals each week and if I improve on those things, then I know come Sunday I might have a chance. Luckily every time I’ve had a chance to win I’ve been able to close it out.
PGATOUR.COM: Your dad got you started in golf with a plastic set of clubs when you were born and by age 9 you were working with Peter Murphy in Dallas, a coach under Hank Haney, and playing up in age group. How did that impact you?
REED: I always believed when you enter an event you go out and try to win, even back then. But when I was younger I’d play up in age group and early on learned how to get my butt kicked. When you’re young and doing that, older guys can hit the ball so much farther. But as I got older and the more I started to win, it boosted my confidence that I can compete.
I remember my first couple of PGA TOUR events. I didn’t play particularly well. My first two events -- the FedEx St. Jude Classic and Frys.com Open -- I got killed. I was trying to play a different kind of golf than I normally do, trying to kill it and hit all these shots. I learned quickly that you have to play the way you play. That’s how I have been playing ever since.
PGATOUR.COM: You Monday qualified six times in 2012. What did that do for you?
REED: It gave me a lot of confidence and belief in myself, and that belief just carried over to Thursday through Sunday. The main thing was it just gave me the opportunity to go out and compete. Then I got into contention and beat Jordan Spieth (in a playoff at the 2013 Wyndham Championship) and that gave me the belief that I actually could win.
Then there were the three 63s at the Humana Challenge to coast on Sunday to another win and then on a really big stage at Doral to hold off Bubba, beat Tiger, wearing red and black. That was good for me mentally to be able to pull that off.
PGATOUR.COM: Why do you wear red and black on Sundays?
REED: The first two events we won I was wearing red and black. I wasn’t going to change that and mess with the juju. The first time I wore it was because of Tiger Woods. He was my idol. I also wear it on Fridays, though, because that’s an important day being cut day.
PGATOUR.COM: Then you wore it in the final round at Trump Doral with Tiger playing in front of you.
REED: I was on the range first at Doral and Tiger came up behind me and put down his bag. I went to grab another bag of balls and all of a sudden saw this huge crowd and didn’t know why. Then I saw him and it’s like “Oh, that’s why.” But I just continued going through what I needed to do.
On the Friday of his tournament, the Hero World Challenge, last year I wore red and black playing with him and he said to me, “I thought that’s what you’re supposed to wear on Sunday.” I said to him, “But this is a special occasion.” I was playing with him for the first time. We had a good time. I don’t think Tiger cares.
PGATOUR.COM: You give off a bit of a lone wolf persona, but you won back-to-back national championships in college (at Augusta State) and proved yourself in the Ryder Cup. What about those experiences was valuable?
REED: College golf is so much different than PGA TOUR golf. Golf is a very individualized sport and in college now all of a sudden you’re on a team. I had to learn how to manage my time -- you have school to balance and there’s only a certain amount of daylight. I also learned to be a team player and that helped me in the Ryder Cup. I’ve just learned to not worry about anything else and see where I want to get to and go get it. At tournaments you’ll see me pop in my headphones and get in my zone, go to work and get out.
PGATOUR.COM: You mentioned the Ryder Cup. What was that like for you?
REED: It was the best, most fun, exciting week in my life. The first thing is I wanted to play my way onto the team, to earn a spot. To do that was extremely satisfying. Then to wear the red, white and blue, it got me so pumped up. I got on the first tee ad it was the most nervous tee shot I have ever had. To let it all out was so much fun. I was so excited to have a great group of guys around me and we all had a good time. Unfortunately we didn’t play the best and come out with a W but it was a fun week.
PGATOUR.COM: Take me back to the day last December in Naples when your wife had a seizure.
REED: It was the scariest day of my life. She’s the most fit and healthy person I know in our family. I had tweaked my back picking up some luggage after the pro-am (at the Franklin Templeton Shootout) and had booked us a couples massage. She was taking a bath to get cleaned up and I was laying on the bed watching TV when I heard a thump. It almost sounded like it came from the room above us but I said, “Honey are you all right?” When I didn’t get a response I walked in and she was submerged in the water having a seizure. Instincts kicked in and I ripped her out of the water. I don’t know CPR, so I started giving her the Heimlich before calling for help.
She has a rule that she’s not allowed to take a bath alone now. She’s doing awesome now and hopefully it won’t happen again. We think the cause might have been when she scratched her cornea when we were in China and she was on some antibiotics and steroids that were tearing her stomach up. Her potassium and magnesium were low and we found out that could cause a seizure.
PGATOUR.COM: How would you describe yourself?
REED: Passionate. Determined. A fun-loving guy who loves his family and hanging out. I’m confident and have a belief in myself and if you don’t have that belief, you’re never going to succeed. Off the course I am completely different. I’m a jokester. I pull a lot of pranks on my mother-in-law. She’s an easy target but we have a really good relationship.
PGATOUR.COM: What would you say to those who might label you as overconfident or even cocky?
REED: To me, that’s their opinion. They’d see a different side of me off the course if they hung out with me. Some say there’s a borderline between being confident and being cocky but at the end of the day you have to believe in yourself and be confident.