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Posted April 6, 2019, 5:58 pm

Patrick Reed found success with team's help

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    Reed is seen during his Augusta State days with coach Josh Gregory. The coach said Reed "needed some guidance at that point in his life to really not only help him mature off the golf course, but develop his golf game where he could get out and compete on the PGA Tour.” [MICHAEL HOLAHAN/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

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    The bag tag for Reed's son Barrett Benjamin arrived just in time for last year's Masters Tournament. [JOHN BOYETTE/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

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    Reed keeps bag tags from the American Junior Golf Association on his bag for his daughter Windsor Wells and his son Barrett Benjamin. [JOHN BOYETTE/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

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    Reed's wife and caddie, Justine, watches him practice hitting out of a bunker at Augusta National in 2017. [ANDREW DAVIS TUCKER/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

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    Reed lines up a putt on No. 11 during the final round of last year's Masters Tournament. [TODD BENNETT/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

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    At Augusta State, Reed picked up All-America honors and went undefeated in match play while playing a major role in the Jaguars' back-to-back national championship seasons. [COREY PERRINE/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

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    Augusta State teammate Carter Newman learned to trust Reed when the pressure was on. “One thing about Patrick, I have never met someone in my entire life who can grind and make a putt when he has to make a putt,” Newman said. [MICHAEL HOLAHAN/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Patrick Reed couldn’t resist.

Every time he played Augusta Country Club, whether for practice or for qualifying with his Augusta State University teammates, he would pause by that spot at the ninth hole. There, along the fence line, he peeked into Augusta National Golf Club and spotted a slice of nirvana.

“Every time you got to that spot where you could look over and see 13, to actually play there is unbelievable,” Reed said.

Reed’s journey to Augusta National and the Masters Tournament was a different one. A talented junior player, Reed’s path led him to Augusta State in the fall of 2009, and what he accomplished in two seasons is legendary: All-America honors. Undefeated in match play. A pair of national championships.

Thanks to the generosity of local members, Reed and his teammates played Augusta National each season.

“Two times I played when I was there, I felt like it was as hard as when I played in the tournament,” said Reed, whose best round was even par. “It was an awesome treat.”

When Reed qualified for his first Masters in 2014, the stay was briefer than he would have liked. He missed the cut, and the next three trips weren’t much better: tied for 22nd in 2015, tied for 49th in 2016 and another missed cut in 2017.

“The biggest thing was going into Augusta I always felt like I was in pretty good form, but when I get there I emphasize it’s the first major and I press too hard,” Reed said.

Something had to change, and Reed turned to his inner circle for help. Team Reed begins with his wife, Justine, who is his most trusted adviser. His brother-in-law, Kessler Karain, is his caddie and someone he can rely on in the heat of the moment. Team Reed also includes a small group of coaches and friends.

Together, they helped Reed focus on golf, tune out the distractions and put four rounds of golf together to realize a lifelong dream: winning the Masters.

That gap in the fence line between Augusta Country Club and Augusta National doesn’t exist anymore. Recent renovations to the country club layout, paid for by its famous neighbor, took care of that.

But Reed doesn’t need to peek anymore. He’s got a lifetime invitation to play in the Masters.

“To be able to drive down Magnolia Lane and play in the Masters for the first time was a moment that I’ll never forget,” Reed said. “I can’t wait to drive down it this year as the defending champion.”

‘Big fish’ at Augusta State

Reed remembers meeting Josh Gregory in his office on Augusta State’s campus.

Reed had played at Georgia for one season, but by the spring of 2009 he was in the market for a new school.

“I sat in front of a ton of coaches, top programs, and every coach said the same thing,” he said. “If we had you, we would be here. We’re here, but we’d be there. And after hearing that pitch a lot, I started to kind of pick his brain. He used to be a player, he’s very involved with players, it’s a small school. It’s schoolwork and golf, there’s not much anything else.”

Reed was in need of a coach equal parts big brother and counselor, someone who could kick him in the rear and also lend a sympathetic ear.

“I knew it was going to be a hard sell,” Gregory said. “This was a kid who was, if not the best, one of the top two or three in the country. He was looking at Florida and Wake Forest and a few others. My kind of sell to him is maybe the large environment didn’t work for you. Why don’t you come to a place where you can be a big fish in a small pond?”

Gregory, a good golfer not much older than his players, forged an immediate bond with Reed.

“It was equally good for him in that he needed some guidance at that point in his life to really not only help him mature off the golf course, but develop his golf game where he could get out and compete on the PGA Tour.”

Reed appreciated that Gregory had a knack for making his players better, even if the majority would never compete at the highest professional level.

“You could learn a lot from Josh. At the same time you could really focus on practicing and getting your schoolwork done,” Reed said. “I felt like that was an important time. When you go to college, it’s the first time you’re away from your parents. You’re out basically on your own. It’s all up to you and how you’re going to manage your time.”

Gregory is now a performance coach who works with half-a-dozen PGA Tour players, including Reed, and dozens of other players in the professional, college and junior ranks.

“As Patrick has said, my job is to set up a plan, a structure for them to get better,” Gregory said. “All they have to do is swing a club.”

Reed spends much time when he’s at home in the Houston area working with swing instructor Kevin Kirk, who has been his primary coach most of his professional career. Two weeks before the Masters, Reed enlisted the help of longtime instructor David Leadbetter.

At last year’s Masters, Gregory was on site through the first two rounds before heading home to Dallas.

“That whole winter, that whole spring he was trying to get his game fully well-rounded,” Gregory said. “He worked hard on his driving. When he drives the ball well, he is hard to beat.”

One shot in particular that Reed focused on was adding a cut shot to his arsenal. His natural shot shape was a draw, but he understood the benefits of being able to move the ball the other way off the tee.

“He doesn’t love to cut it, but he’s really good at it,” Gregory said. “He ended up using it on five or six holes (at Augusta) and hit more fairways. Once he’s in the fairway, he’s as good as anybody from 150 yards in. He’s incredible.”

Gregory left Augusta after the second round of the Masters, even though his star pupil was rounding into top form.

“I always have a general rule,” Gregory said. “I never come back once I leave. A little bit of a superstition. I don’t want to look like I’m trying to get part of the glory. If I’m there all week, I’ll stay, but I’ll never go back unless asked to go back, no matter who it is.”

‘Wonderful father’

Jason Etzen and the American Junior Golf Association staff gave Patrick and Justine a bag tag when their daughter Windsor Wells was born in May 2014.

The same thing happened when the Reeds welcomed Barrett Benjamin in December 2017.

Bag tags are used to identify a junior player’s name and high school class year. That makes it easier for golf coaches to identify players while on the recruiting trail.

Windsor Wells (2031) and Barrett Benjamin (2036) haven’t started playing yet, but the bag tag program is something that their father has been fond of since his junior days.

“Growing up, everyone always wanted an AJGA bag tag,” Reed said.

Reed played the AJGA circuit from 2004-07, posting one victory and six top-10 finishes. He earned Rolex Junior All-American honors in 2005-07.

The Insperity Invitational/Patrick Reed AJGA Junior Championship is held each summer in the Houston area. The Reeds have embraced it and made it one of the more honored junior events, Etzen said.

“Giving back to The Woodlands community is very important to him and Justine,” said Etzen, the AJGA’s chief business officer. “He’s all in. Through his tournament, he’s able to give back $140,000 directly to charity.”

But the Reeds wanted to do more, and when Etzen approached with an opportunity to underwrite the bag tag program, they didn’t hesitate.

They also endow an ACE Grant, which provides financial assistance to a junior golfer from the Houston area and helps defray the expenses of traveling to statewide and AJGA events.

At his junior event last year, Reed made sure that each of the field’s 96 players received a signed Masters flag.

“That’s one of many things he does,” Etzen said.

Fatherhood has been good for Reed. His wife said it has reshaped their priorities.

“He’s a wonderful father,” Justine said. “I think he is so much fun with them, and I think it’s changed both of our lives in so many ways. We want to get the most out of our practice days so we could get home and see our kids the most amount of time. I think that’s been wonderful for him.”

If you looked closely at Reed’s bag during the Masters, you could see the bag tags for both of his children prominently displayed. Perhaps that inner peace and sense of family helped Reed achieve something he had never done before at Augusta National: break 70. His opening 69 left him in the hunt after the first round, and was a sign of things to come.

The bag tag for Barrett arrived just in time for last year’s Masters.

“His first week on the bag was a win at a major,” Reed said. “It was unbelievable.”

Sharpening the short game

Dave Pelz picked up the phone late in the summer of 2014, and Reed needed help with his putting stroke.

That part of the game had always been a strength for Reed, but he was in the middle of the FedEx Cup playoffs and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles was looming.

“I said I’d be very hesitant, I don’t think it would be advisable this close to the Ryder Cup,” Pelz said. “He said I’m really, really struggling so I’d like to go ahead. I said Patrick, are you sure? Sometimes you might have to take one step backward to go two steps forward. He said I know my normal putting, and I need to fix it. I don’t want to go into the Ryder Cup this way.”

Pelz arranged to meet Reed near that week’s stop, Cherry Hills Country Club outside of Denver.

“We met and worked for a few hours and had a great time,” Pelz said. “He had great enthusiasm, which I loved. It was just a setup problem and a pre-shot routine. He played great in the Ryder Cup and putted well.”

Indeed, Reed and Jordan Spieth formed a formidable rookie pairing, and they won two matches and halved another. In singles, Reed defeated Henrik Stenson 1 up. Even though the U.S. squad lost, Reed and Spieth were hailed as a bright spot.

Pelz, a short-game guru based in Austin, Texas, has worked with many top players on a variety of tours in his 40-plus-year teaching career. That includes three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson.

Before last year’s Masters, Reed worked with Pelz again. They set up a meeting, this time at Pelz’s home where he has an elaborate short-game course in his backyard.

“I have these targets, some are greens, some measurable circles, and I’ve got scoring systems for all of them so I can evaluate how you’re hitting your wedge,” Pelz said. “Maybe two-thirds through the second day he was doing so well. He set two or three records that were really spectacular. He left here and went to Augusta and worked for a couple of days. Then he went home and won.”

Reed’s short game magic was on display in the second round last year as he torched Augusta National for nine birdies.

Most were set up by his wedge play: A nifty bunker shot at No. 2. A half wedge at the third to close range. A wedge to tap-in distance at No. 14. And at the 15th, after his second shot went just over the green, Reed plopped the ball onto the green and it rolled to short range for another birdie.

It all added up to 66 and a two-shot lead heading into the weekend.

At home, Pelz watched in awe as his star pupil put on a clinic. He compares Reed to Mickelson in terms of short-game ability.

“I think Patrick is just sneaking up on him there,” Pelz said. “When Patrick is in form in his short game, I don’t expect him to make bogey very often.”

Fearless on the green

Carter Newman had no doubt that Reed was going to make the putt.

It was the first day of the 2010 NCAA Championships at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn., and eight teams were playing match play. Reed’s Augusta State team was strong with Henrik Norlander, Mitch Krywulycz, Taylor Floyd and Newman.

Augusta State faced Georgia Tech in the first round, and the Jaguars trailed 2-1 in the best-of-five format. Reed was 1 up going to the 18th hole against Chesson Hadley, and both hit good drives. But Hadley’s approach landed some 30 feet from the pin, leaving him a difficult putt to force extra holes. Reed hit his approach 15 feet below the hole.

“He’s dead,” Reed said. “There’s zero way he’s two-putting that putt. It’s breaking six ways, it’s up a mountain and down a cliff. I hit a wedge shot in there 15 feet. I’m going, match is over.”

Of course, Hadley made the putt.

“He just goes absolutely insane,” Reed said. “There’s nothing I can do at that point. I go, OK, I’ve got to make my putt.”

But Newman and Reed’s Augusta State teammates had seen him rise to the occasion before.

“One thing about Patrick, I have never met someone in my entire life who can grind and make a putt when he has to make a putt,” Newman said. “I don’t care if it’s 3 feet or 40 feet. He did it all the time in practice and qualifying. When he really needed to make a putt, he always finds a way to do it.

“I remember looking at Mitch and Taylor and saying there’s no way he’s going to miss this. And sure enough, he poured it right in the center.”

Reed unleashed a fist pump and a yell that reverberated around The Honors Course.

“Right off the face when I hit it, I knew it was in,” he said. “I went absolutely nuts, screamed. Next thing you know the place is going absolutely nuts. From that point on it just seemed to kick-start us, kind of get the team in that mindset that hey, we can do this. Let’s keep rolling.”

Reed made plenty of big putts as the Jaguars won their first national championship after beating Florida State in the semis and Oklahoma State in the finals.

At the Masters last year, Reed’s putting prowess was on display again. He was using contact lenses for the first time, and it paid off. He led all players who made the cut in putting.

In the rainy third round, Reed increased his lead to three in a round of 67 thanks to clutch putts like the one he sank at No. 9 for a birdie.

“Best putter in the field, and that’s why,” CBS announcer Jim Nantz said as the putt tumbled into the cup. “Wow.”

On the incoming nine, Reed didn’t let up as some of the game’s biggest stars made runs at him. Karain, his caddie, helped him stay aggressive.

“On 13 I know we were in between clubs and I was leaning one way and he was leaning the other,” Karain said. “He was right. He hit it perfect.”

That set up a 14-foot eagle putt, which Reed drained. At No. 15, they faced a 264-yard shot to the pin into a green guarded by water.

“The number was pretty questionable on the cover, but in hindsight it was a great caddie move,” Karain said. “Going back, it was pretty dicey letting him hit it. He was super confident. Conditionwise, it wasn’t in his favor to hit that shot. But he was hitting it so well and I said, you know what man, if you want to hit 3 wood, go ahead.”

The ball cleared the water with not much margin for error and wound up right of the green and just short of the greenside bunker.

“Of course he chipped in for eagle,” he said. “That was pretty nice.”


Looking back, Karain said it might not have been the prudent play.

“It worked out great,” he said. “It was aggressive and a high-risk, high-reward type of situation and it paid off that time.”

Pelz wasn’t surprised. He had seen that type of play from Reed before.

“When he’s here in my backyard, he’s working on everything inside 100 yards,” he said. “He had hit many of those shots here the week before. I can’t tell you how many he made in two days.”

Like reading a putt on a green, Pelz said the top players do the same thing on shots from off the green.

“That’s what he and Phil get into,” Pelz said. “They are trying to land it at a spot and they are going to try to make it. I’m thrilled, but not surprised, when he gets those kind of results.”

Champions again

Reed has never been afraid to go up against the best players in golf. Whether it’s Rory McIlroy at the Ryder Cup or Peter Uihlein in the NCAAs, Reed has never backed down.

A year after its first national championship, Augusta State still had its core lineup intact and made the NCAA match play field again. This time they were on Oklahoma State’s home turf at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla.

The Jaguars defeated Georgia Tech in the first round again, then met the Cowboys in the semifinals. In a raucous atmosphere rarely seen in college golf, Oklahoma State fans turned out in droves.

Reed had beaten Uihlein a year earlier and was once again matched against one of the top amateurs in the world. This time, Reed showed no mercy in an 8 and 7 drubbing.

“I’m walking up 10 and Peter Uihlein, who I know very well, comes up to me and goes, why is it every time I have to play you I run into a buzzsaw?” Reed said. “I said, I don’t know Petey. At that point he’s six or seven down and he’s not playing bad. That’s the crazy thing.”

Reed’s match ended so quickly that the other four matches were still being played. He became the cheerleader, and it eventually came down to Newman’s match against Sean Einhaus.

Newman made a downhill 30-footer on the 17th hole to keep things square, then Einhaus applied pressure by making a birdie putt on the 18th hole. Newman knocked in his 5-foot birdie putt to tie the hole and send the match to extra holes.

“I remember walking from 17 green to 18 tee and (Reed) came up and got in my ear and said this is the match you wanted, this is the guy who beat you last year,” Newman said. “Go get this. There were a lot of challenges about Patrick, but in the heat of the moment, just competing, he often did things like that to fire you up.”

Newman defeated Einhaus on the first extra hole, and the Jaguars were in the finals against a powerful Georgia team that featured Harris English, Hudson Swafford and Russell Henley.

In the championship match, it boiled down to Reed against English. Once again, Reed delivered with a 2 and 1 victory to give the Jaguars a second NCAA title and make it the first school to repeat since Houston in 1984-85.

“To know it’s my last year of playing, having that opportunity for it to come down to me at the end, was just amazing,” Reed said. “At the time it was closest to a PGA Tour event that we’re ever going to play. To have an opportunity to close it out meant a lot.”

Kind of like having a putt to win the Masters?

“Exactly,” Reed said.

A Sunday to remember

Patrick Reed didn’t have any trouble sleeping.

He had heard the stories from other players of what it was like to sleep on the lead after 54 holes at a major for the first time.

“All of them say, ‘Hey, you don’t sleep. You wake up early,’” he said. “Honestly, I slept great. I woke up on Sunday and there was this calmness and at-peace feeling that I had, really all week, but on Sunday in the morning I felt OK and said let’s go out and play golf.”

Everything was fine until the opening hole and a pairing with McIlroy, who at three shots behind was his closest pursuer.

“Literally when I left the putting green to go to the first tee, I stepped on first tee and I went ooh, man,” he said. “It hit me. I looked at Kessler and said hey, and he said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m nervous too. We’ll be good.’”

His opening tee shot went left, though, and he couldn’t reach the green. He wound up with a short, 3½-foot putt for bogey that gave him an immediate check of his nerves.


“Even though it’s a short putt, it’s one of those you have to pay attention to because there’s some break on it,” Reed said. “Once I made that putt, off the green, I looked at Kess and he’s like we’re good, let’s go. At that point I was calm and ready to go.”

The anticipated showdown with McIlroy never materialized. The four-time major winner, who needed a win at Augusta to complete the career Grand Slam, shot 74 and dropped to a tie for fifth.

“I knew it was going to be an extra distraction that was going to be talked about all Saturday night, Sunday morning, especially with what happened at the (2016) Ryder Cup,” said Reed, who won an epic singles match against McIlroy at Hazeltine. “That being said, I just made sure I stayed in the present and focused on what I was doing rather than trying to listen to all the noise. Once you start listening to that, you lose focus and sight of what you’re trying to do.

Reed played the first nine in even par and held the lead going into the final nine holes. Up ahead of him, challenges came from crowd favorites Spieth and Rickie Fowler.

A poor drive at the 11th led to a bogey, but Reed bounced back with a crucial birdie from 22 feet at the par-3 12th.

“When that putt went in for birdie, to me it felt like the tournament was won and over with,” Reed said. “Because how many times do you see a guy in the lead going to 12 and the next thing you know he’s lost the lead going to 13. Twelve always bites everybody.”

Spieth managed to briefly catch Reed with a birdie at the 16th, but Reed responded with a birdie at the 14th. A bogey on the closing hole effectively ended Spieth’s chances.

Reed made pars on the 15th, 16th and 17th holes, the latter on a gritty 5-foot putt. As he made his way to the 18th tee, the huge roar that swept down the fairway told him that his two-shot lead over Fowler had been cut in half.

“That hole has never been my friend in the past,” Reed said of Augusta National’s closing hole. “I’ve made some big numbers there, and to have it come down to that for my first major right after Rickie goes and birdies 18 to cut it to one.”

All winter Reed had been practicing a “helicopter” cut, specifically for a handful of holes at Augusta. He executed the shot perfectly, and his ball was safely in the fairway.

“From there it was kind of free sailing,” he said. “All the weight seemed to be lifted off my shoulders.”

His approach shot sailed long, though, leaving him a slick downhill birdie putt. He coaxed it to 3 feet from the hole.

“As a kid you’re always growing up being like you’ve got this putt to win the Masters, or I have to get up and down to win the Masters,” Reed said. “Every child dreams that, and to be able to have a 3-foot putt, straight uphill, left center putt to win, you just sit there and think, I’ve worked so hard for that moment.”

Reed knocked his ball into the cup, and his world became a blur. He hugged his caddie, shook hands with McIlroy and embraced Justine, who had been waiting at the back of the green. Gregory, his college coach and mentor, sat on his couch in Dallas and cried.

After the TV interview in Butler Cabin, the green jacket ceremony and the interview in the media center, Reed made his way back to Butler Cabin. His daughter, Windsor Wells, awaited the newest Masters champion.

“For her to literally be there with open arms and give me a big hug and say, ‘You did it, daddy, I love you,’” he said. “I melted, I was done. I didn’t know what to do. It was unbelievable.”

Patrick Reed - 2018 Masters

Round 4
Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 OUT 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Tot
Par 4 5 4 3 4 3 4 5 4 36 4 4 3 5 4 5 3 4 4 36 72
Rnd 5 5 3 3 4 4 3 5 4 36 4 5 2 5 3 5 3 4 4 35 71
Tot -13 -13 -14 -14 -14 -13 -14 -14 -14 -14 -14 -13 -14 -14 -15 -15 -15 -15 -15 -15 -15
Round 3
Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 OUT 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Tot
Par 4 5 4 3 4 3 4 5 4 36 4 4 3 5 4 5 3 4 4 36 72
Rnd 4 5 5 3 3 3 4 4 3 34 3 4 4 3 4 3 4 4 4 33 67
Tot -9 -9 -8 -8 -9 -9 -9 -10 -11 -11 -12 -12 -11 -13 -13 -15 -14 -14 -14 -14 -14
Round 2
Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 OUT 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Tot
Par 4 5 4 3 4 3 4 5 4 36 4 4 3 5 4 5 3 4 4 36 72
Rnd 3 4 3 4 4 3 3 4 3 31 5 4 3 4 3 4 4 4 4 35 66
Tot -4 -5 -6 -5 -5 -5 -6 -7 -8 -8 -7 -7 -7 -8 -9 -10 -9 -9 -9 -9 -9
Round 1
Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 OUT 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Tot
Par 4 5 4 3 4 3 4 5 4 36 4 4 3 5 4 5 3 4 4 36 72
Rnd 4 4 4 3 4 3 4 4 5 35 4 5 3 4 3 4 3 4 4 34 69
Tot 0 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -2 -1 -1 -1 0 0 -1 -2 -3 -3 -3 -3 -3 -3

Performance by Round

  Par 3s Par 4s Par 5s
Rnd 1 E +1 -4
Rnd 2 +2 -4 -4
Rnd 3 +2 -2 -5
Rnd 4 E -1 E
All Rnds +4 -6 -13


2 22 37 11 0 0
Eagles Birdies Pars Bogeys 2x Bogeys Other


Masters Record

Year Place Score 1 2 3 4 Earnings
2018 1 -15 69 66 67 71 $1,980,000
2017 T71 +9 76 77     $10,000
2016 T49 +12 76 73 75 76 $27,467
2015 T22 -2 70 72 74 70 $92,833
2014 T72 +8 73 79     $10,000