Patrick Reed believes he’s a top-five player in the world.
The only reason he’s 23rd in the world ranking, he says, is that he’s so young (23) and hasn’t played in enough PGA Tour events (43) to get his ranking any higher.
He has the chance to move closer to the top-five spot if he wins the Masters Tournament on Sunday, which he thinks he can.
Reed, who caused a stir with his “top-five” remark after winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship in mid-March for his third victory in 14 tournaments, will have to buck history if he expects to win.
Other than the tournament’s inaugural winner, only Gene Sarazen (1935) and Fuzzy Zoeller (1979) have won in their first Masters.
“I feel like with the competition these days, that whoever is playing the best, whether you have experience or don’t, is going to pull off a victory,” Reed said Monday.
“You have to feel and believe in yourself to be successful, and that’s all it is,” he later explained.
In his second full season on the PGA Tour, Reed has impressed his peers with his play.
“He’s obviously a really, really talented guy,” said Chris Kirk, a two-time PGA Tour winner who is also a Masters rookie.
Reed set a PGA Tour record when he opened with three 63s to help him win the Humana Challenge in mid-January.
“He’s someone when he’s on, he’s on,” Kirk said. “He can really get it rolling. I was happy I was taking that week off (at Humana), because there wasn’t anybody that was going to beat him.”
Reed said he had heard a “lot of positive things” in response to his “top-five” comment.
“Michael Jordan had nothing bad to say about it; Gary Player, Henrik Stenson, you have all of these top athletes don’t have a problem with it,” he said.
Veteran Stuart Appleby, a nine-time PGA Tour winner, wasn’t so impressed. After Reed’s comment, Appleby tweeted, “see there was some smack talk at the WGC today, game I guess is easy for 1 player, hope he has 20 plus years of 3 wins every 7 months.”
Reed, who spent two years at Augusta State and helped the Jaguars win back-to-back NCAA national titles, is not getting wrapped up in being a local favorite playing in the Masters.
“I try to treat it like it’s just another event,” he said. “It’s just a mindset that I’ve always had. No matter what event it is, I try to get in the mindset that it’s just another event, it’s another golf course; you’re playing the golf course. Because if you start throwing stuff out of proportion and stuff, then you start getting the nerves up and you start doubting yourself and things start going south.”
Because it’s the Masters, though, it might be harder for Reed to view it as just another event. For instance, there was the drive down Magnolia Lane.
“Oh, it was amazing, that’s for sure,” he said. “I wanted to reverse and do it again, but I had to keep going so I could get out there and practice.”
He’d made that drive before when he was in college. This one was different.
“Every time driving down, you get a big smile on your face and you realize that this time it’s different because the first three times I did it was as an amateur and now I’m doing it as a professional playing at Augusta in the Masters.”
He also visited the pro shop, where he bought a commemorative Eisenhower Tree coin. Ike’s Tree, a fixture on the left side of the 17th fairway, had to be removed after a February ice storm.
Reed said he would have hit the tree in Monday’s practice round if it still had been there.
“The first three times I played this course it was there,” Reed said, “and it made that hole really hard.”