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Posted March 19, 2019, 10:27 am
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Boyette: Masters champ Patrick Reed not ready to relinquish green jacket

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    Patrick Reed dons the Green Jacket after winning the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, Sunday, April 8, 2018. [ANDREW DAVIS TUCKER/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

In three weeks, Rory McIlroy will come to the Masters Tournament as the betting favorite as he tries to complete the career Grand Slam.

Tiger Woods will show up at Augusta National Golf Club and will look to add to his career wins and major championship totals.

Defending champion Patrick Reed will likely fly in under the radar, and that’s exactly how he likes it.

“I feel like I’m in as good a form, if not in a better place, than I was last year at this time,” Reed said Monday during a teleconference with reporters.

Reed’s results since slipping on the green jacket do not make him one of the pre-tournament favorites. He hasn’t won since the Masters; a solo fourth at the U.S. Open and a tie for second at the European Tour’s World Tour Championship in Dubai are his best results.

“I’ve hit golf shots and have done things on the golf course that I feel a little bit more comfortable this year doing than I did last year at this point, but I just need to go out and continue playing to put four rounds together,” Reed said.

Case in point for the former Augusta State star was last week’s Players Championship. Reed opened with three consecutive 69s, but a final-round 78 derailed his outside chance to win.

“I just haven’t quite put four (rounds) yet out there at the same time yet. It’s either been two or three or three and a half,” Reed said. “I just need to get all of them going. I feel like I’m really close. I feel like I’ve gotten the bag where I feel really comfortable and confident with it, and now it’s just get some more reps underneath me and just kind of get ready for Augusta.”

As defending champion, Reed will have a number of added responsibilities that will tug at his time and his preparation. There’s a reason only three players — Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Woods — have successfully defended their Masters victories.

But Reed said he will embrace the moment, not run from it.

“I honestly can’t wait for the week to start and to be able to experience all of it because being the first major and being able to come back and experience what it’s like to be on the first tee as defending champion is going to be an awesome experience,” he said. ”(I) just can’t wait to cherish all the moments and just see what it’s like.”

Reed hasn’t been back to Augusta National since his breakthrough win, and he isn’t likely to make it back until the week before this year’s tournament. He’s scheduled to play this week in Tampa, Fla., and then he goes to the Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas.

Reed rattled off a number of fun moments he’s had wearing the green jacket, but he didn’t hesitate when asked about his least favorite moment as Masters champion.

“It hasn’t come yet,” Reed said. ”(It’s) going to be when I have to return the jacket and I’m not allowed to have it in my closet and wear it around the house and out at places.”

The thought of slipping the green jacket on the shoulders of another player makes Reed want to win even more.

“Even the times I’m not actually wearing the green jacket, to be able to see the green jacket sitting in your closet or sitting in an area where you’re always kind of walking by and you’ll see it, it just gives you motivation and kind of picks me up and tells me that you want to keep it around,” he said. “You want to keep it around as long as you can. The only way you’re going to do that is continue winning at Augusta and continue winning the event so you can have it year in and year out.”

All through his career, even during his college days when he was leading the Jaguars to back-to-back NCAA championships, Reed thrived on being an underdog.

Don’t count him out.