Augusta (United States) (AFP) – Patrick Reed still isn’t a top-five player in the world, but when he walked off the 18th green Sunday at Augusta National, he was something more important — a Masters champion.
The outspoken 27-year-old American, who first came to world attention in 2014 by declaring himself a world top-five talent after a WGC win at Doral, held off Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler down the back nine Sunday to win the 82nd Masters.
He’s projected to jump from 24th to 11th in Monday’s world rankings, but he has still never reached the top five, with a career high of seventh.
Comparing himself to idol Tiger Woods and other “legends of the game” four years ago rubbed many the wrong way, especially since he had never played in a major tournament.
“I don’t ever regret anything I really say. I stand by my comments,” Reed said.
Having broken through for his first major title by one stroke over Fowler and two over Spieth, he has proven his point that he deserves consideration among the finest players in the world.
“I feel like I’ve played some golf that I need to play in order to get to where I want to be, and that’s to be the best golfer in the world,” he said. “The way you’re going to do that is perform in these big events and to win these big events.”
The win was especially welcome for the 2017 PGA Championship runner-up, who didn’t take any title last year.
“I’m just happy to be up here and be able to say I’ve gotten over that hump of not winning at all last year, coming into a year that one of my biggest goals was to win a major and compete,” Reed said.
“To be able to get them both at once, to end the drought and win a major, it helps me mentally, and also helps my resume, and hopefully I can just take this momentum going forward and play some really solid golf.”
– Tiger wants Reed in 2019 –
Woods, the 2019 US Presidents Cup captain and 14-time major winner, backs Reed, tweeting of the new Masters champion: “Congrats @PReedGolf! At worst you have assured yourself a captain’s pick for next year’s @PresidentsCup.”
Reed has been a fiery Ryder Cup player, shushing European fans and exciting US crowds with flamboyance in the team match-play event.
Reed led nearby Augusta State University to US college titles in 2010 and 2011, but only after departing the University of Georgia under a cloud after one season, denying reports of cheating and stealing from a teammate.
Reed has also been estranged from his parents and sister. Asked about not being able to share his success with them, Reed matched Woods at his best on sore subjects with a deft deflection.
“I mean, I’m just out here to play golf and try to win golf tournaments,” he said.
Reed was branded the US PGA’s second-most disliked player, after Bubba Watson, in a 2015 ESPN poll. And he was to the point when asked why he thought social media posts tended to run against him.
“I have no idea and honestly I don’t really care what people say on Twitter or what they say if they are cheering for me or not,” Reed said. “I’m out here to do my job, and that’s to play golf. If I’m doing it the right way, then that’s all that really matters.”
– Fans cheered Rory more –
Reed even used crowds as motivation on Sunday, saying he could feel more people cheering playing partner Rory McIlroy’s quest for a win and career Grand Slam than for his own victory.
“I walked up to the first tee and had a really welcoming cheer from the fans, but then when Rory walked up to the tee, his cheer was a little louder,” Reed said.
“But that’s another thing that just kind of played into my hand. Not only did it fuel my fire a little bit, but also, it just takes the pressure off of me and adds it back to him.”
Reed said he didn’t think it was a measure of popularity.
“He has played some really solid golf here. A lot of people are wanting him to win to get that career Grand Slam,” Reed said. “It’s just nature. It didn’t surprise me that the fans were cheering for him in the beginning.”