Wife became Patrick Reed’s partner on course as well
Justine Karain was a nurse, with aspirations of landing a management role, when she met Patrick Reed.
She had earned dual degrees in nursing and health service administration. They had met because her sister, Kristiane, went to high school in Louisiana with the golfer. Justine and Patrick began dating while he was at Augusta State and had a long-distance relationship.
“When we met, it just clicked. I thought some of his quirks and some of the things he would do, even the way he ate his food, was just funny,” she said. “How particular he was. He was meticulous about everything.”
Justine was competitive in swimming and soccer while growing up in the Houston area.
“I guess I loved his personality and his drive,” she said. “We are both motivated and very competitive. We want to be the best, doesn’t matter what it is. That’s why we hit it off and understood each other without having to say much.”
Reed turned pro after his team’s second NCAA title in the summer of 2011. He failed to get his PGA Tour card, so he had no status and decided to go the Monday qualifying route to gain entry into tournaments.
Reed and Karain had become engaged, and the two discussed the possibility of her becoming his caddie. That meant she had to give up her career and decline a job offer at Texas Medical Center for a position she wanted.
“At the time it was really hard to turn down because it was exactly what I wanted,” she said. “A management role within a unit and what I wanted later to achieve in my life.”
The golfer, though, was skeptical that his petite fiancée could handle carrying a staff bag. So he devised a test of sorts.
“He filled up the bag one day and it was 100 degrees in Houston,” she said. “He put everything possible in the bag for the worst-case scenario. Rainy day, all kinds of things, filled up water bottles. the whole nine yards.
“So we played the first nine and I had no problem. He’s like, ‘Gosh, it’s hot. Let’s go in.’ And I said no, we’re doing 18. Because that’s what we said we’re going to do. So I passed.”
Monday qualifying on the PGA Tour is one of the most difficult things to do in golf. Dozens of players tee it up with the hope of landing one of a handful of spots available for most regular events. Usually a score in the low to mid-60s is required to make it.
The couple was now living in Houston, and they would travel (most of the time driving) to qualifying sites each week. Reed got in the Texas Open, then followed it up by Monday qualifying in New Orleans; Charlotte, N.C.; and back to Dallas for the Byron Nelson Championship. He made the cut in his first three events, giving him confidence and earnings toward conditional status.
Justine said she worked hard to become the best caddie she could be.
“A lot of work on my part in learning the role and the psychology and the importance of how much a caddie can impact a player’s performance,” she said. “And I think that is why we always worked very well together.”
Reed eventually made it through six of eight Monday qualifiers, then headed to the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament later that year.
After opening with rounds of 70 and 75, he was far back of where he needed to be with four rounds to go.
“We had to treat it like four Mondays,” she said. “And I said we can do that, we can make it. And I think each day we went 4-under, 5-under and shot 17-under to make it on the number. That’s how he gained his tour card.”
Now with PGA Tour status, Reed played his first full season in 2013. The first few months were rough, with little success and just one top-10 finish. A solo fifth-place finish in Memphis, though, began a hot stretch that ended with him winning the Wyndham Championship for his first professional victory.
“Whenever he was under the gun or had to make something happen, he can turn it on like a switch,” she said. “It’s very next level when he can tap into that.”
A final-round 66 at the Wyndham put him in a playoff against Jordan Spieth. On the second hole, Reed’s drive nearly went out of bounds, and he was left with a difficult shot through the trees.
Reed tapped into his next level, pulling off the shot and leaving him seven feet from the cup. When Spieth missed his birdie, Reed rolled his putt into the cup for victory.
“It was the best shot of my life,” Reed said at the time.
The couple, wearing red-and-black outfits, hoisted the trophy together. A few weeks later, Justine found out the couple would soon become three. She was pregnant with her first child, and her caddying days were coming to an end.
She stepped away from carrying the bag, replaced by her brother Kessler, but she is still Reed’s most-trusted adviser. Instead of a career in health care administration, she is the leader of Team Reed and stays busy with her husband’s work, their foundation and raising two children.
“When you take detours, it’s funny how life is because sometimes these detours take you places you never would have thought,” she said. “Really, I think my environment growing up, this is what I was supposed to be doing. So maybe it all works out. There’s a reason behind everything.”