Firstly, I’d like to congratulate Patrick Reed on a phenomenal win at the 2018 Masters, which was certainly one for the ages.
A player who on five separate occasions Monday Qualified for PGA Tour events, Reed has come a long way in the world of golf since turning professional in 2011, and last night accomplished his ultimate goal – becoming a major champion.
He is now a six-time winner on Tour overall something that even major championship aside, some players will never achieve.
Being presented with a Green Jacket confirms what we have all known for quite some time, Reed is a very talented golfer. This was clear following his first win on Tour in 2013 and subsequent victories, but he reaffirmed that notion in sublime fashion, this past Sunday evening at Augusta.
Once ridiculed for saying “I’m one of the top five players in the world.” following his win at the WGC- Cadillac Championship back in 2014, Reed successfully held off strong challenges from Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler in the final round on Sunday, in order to win his first major. Spieth and Fowler, who rank 3rd and 6th in the world, pushed Reed all the way, and ensured he would have to shoot under-par for the fourth day in row to secure victory – a challenge he rose to in style.
Now ranked 11th in the world, having reached a high of 7th in the past, Reed will no doubt be on a quest to make sure his once-viewed arrogant statement rings true.
Not only did Reed deal with the strong charges from Fowler and Spieth, he also outshone his playing partner, Rory McIlroy. Despite the clear favouritism on and off the course towards the four-time major champion, Reed managed to keep the blinkers on, focus on his own game and continue with the job at hand. He started the day three shots clear of McIlroy and ended it six clear, as he played well whilst McIlroy struggled.
Both men were under extreme pressure, as Reed was in search of his first major, whereas McIlroy was trying to complete the much coveted Grand Slam. In the end, it was Reed who took the bull by the horns, whilst McIlroy’s putter ultimately let him down when it mattered most. Rory will no doubt come back to Augusta in the forthcoming years and contend again, but yesterday – it was Patrick’s day.
So when did we first really stand up and take note of the man from San Antonio, Texas?
Well, in 2013 after a solid but somewhat unspectacular year in 2012, Reed kicked on and got his first Tour win. To grab that first title, Reed had to go toe-to-toe with one of the greatest young talents the Tour has ever seen – Jordan Spieth. 72 holes couldn’t separate the pair that week and it took another two play-off holes to eventually ensure Reed was crowned champion.
The victory didn’t come entirely out of the blue though, his win that week was his third-straight top-9 finish and his fifth of the season, a stellar start to his first full season on Tour.
Perhaps caught up in all the commotion of his first win, Reed failed to finish better than T40 in his next six starts, as 2013 came to a close.
A more consistent 2014 was surely a goal of Reed’s when the New Year rolled around, along with another win, and he managed that, and then some.
2014 was of course the year he won the WGC-Cadillac, but he was entering that week with a second PGA Tour win already under his belt, thanks to a victory at the Humana Challenge in January of the same year. Entering the week a two-time PGA Tour winner, the win at the WGC was his way to take the next step and now four years on he has taken another step in the right direction.
In between his wins at the Cadillac and his first major title, it has been a career that whilst not plain-sailing, has had plenty more highlights, notably his Ryder Cup performances and two more Tour wins.
Reed starred at both the 2014 and 2016 Ryder Cup’s, despite a win for the European side in the former. At Gleneagles, Europe won in comprehensive fashion, with a final score of 16 ½ to 11 ½ but it was not due to lack of effort from Reed. It was a strong performance from Europe on home soil, but Reed certainly did all he could to turn the tie in his team’s favour, battling away each day.
He went unbeaten over the week, securing 3.5 points for his side, including a one-up victory against Henrik Stenson in their Singles match on Sunday. A formidable partnership with Spieth was born as well, winning their first two matches 5&4 and 5&3 before halving with Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer on Saturday afternoon.
It was much the same in 2016, with an identical individual points tally, although this time it helped towards a dominant USA Victory. Reed’s 3.5 points were valuable in a 17 v 11 point victory and whilst Reed and Spieth did eventually get beat by Rose and Stenson this time around, his win over McIlroy during the singles’ matches on Sunday was quite the spectacle. Who knows whether getting the win over him in the Ryder Cup gave him an edge in the final group at the Masters, but it certainly wouldn’t have hurt.
Still some way behind Ryder-Cup team-mate, Spieth in terms of career titles, especially in the major department, it would be naive to think he will rest on his laurels after this first. The expectation now is to surely add multiple major wins, and the lessons he learned at Augusta, as well as those when disappointed at the 2015 U.S. Open and 2017 PGA Championship, will surely serve him well.
When leading through 36-holes at Chambers Bay in 2015, his efforts over the weekend proved he wasn’t quite ready to win a major title, and despite going a lot closer when T2 at last year’s PGA Championship, there was still some work to do. He channelled those previous efforts and everything else he has learned in the last seven years, in order to achieve a wonderful victory this past weekend.
2017 proved a dissapointing year on the golf course for Reed and ended up being his first winless season on Tour, with that effort at the PGA Championship a bright spot in an otherwise average season, by his standards.
To then bounce back in 2018 the way he had prior to the Masters and then go on to win it, is quite extraordinary and should be applauded.
To start the past week in 4th place, before claiming the top spot on day two and holding onto it for the remainder of the week should again be praised, as Augusta is a golf course that leaves no margin for error.
The Masters hasn’t always been a favourite event for him either, struggling to two missed cuts and a best finish of 22nd in his first four appearances there, but he certainly found the magic formula this time around, showing what perseverance can achieve.
With the game littered with exceptional players, he still may not be considered one of the top-5 players in the world, but he certainly knows how to play like one, something enabled by his elite-level of self-belief.
One thing is for certain, the man who became the first player to win three PGA Tour titles before even playing in his first major championship, has an incredible amount of talent, with potential to go on and be even better. Now a Masters winner, the only way to enhance his reputation is to win other major titles and be a consistent performer in them for years to come.
At just 27 years of age, there is still plenty of time for Reed to add to his already impressive résumé, and I wouldn’t bet against him doing just that.