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The other three are Tiger Woods, Rory Mc Ilroy, and Sergio Garcia—names that demonstrate the lofty company he keeps. There has always been something a little off-key brewing beneath the surface of his story—a swirl of rumors dating back to his college days, when he lasted a year at Georgia before transferring to Augusta State and winning two national championships, the second of them against the school that had kicked him out.
This is a story about his past—the triumphs and the stumbles. From Reed’s body language after I said O’Connor’s name, I got the sense that he knew exactly what I was talking about. * From the time he was very young, Reed brought an unusual focus to the sport, right down to the smallest details.
* The more Reed won on Tour, the more inevitable it became that his complicated history would return to haunt him. I believe that he lied, and I don’t say that with any judgment—I learned early on that lying is a critical part of the process with PGA Tour players and their representatives, and it serves a purpose. Those responses came quickly, and reminded me of an old trope: The cop standing in front of a grisly car wreck, saying, “move along, nothing to see here! When he was ten, he stopped wearing shorts on the golf course, both in competitive tournaments and range rounds, because he saw that the pros had to wear pants.
Finally, after the biggest win of his career at the Cadillac Championship last March, ’s Ian O’Connor dragged some of the skeletons from the closet in a Masters-week story called “Patrick Reed’s Turbulent Rise.” O’Connor’s research, spanning courthouses and coaches and parents and former college and high school teammates, lifted the veil, at least slightly, on Reed’s youth. It’s not incumbent upon them to provide unfavorable information about themselves, either from their past or their Tour lives, and in fact being honest can, at times, have a detrimental effect. But I curious to see his reaction to the story, and the fact that he had feigned ignorance until his wife essentially called him out was telling—it had hit home, and it was something he worried about. In the brutal heat of midsummer, he’d be the only kid at a tournament in khakis, and even when he came close to passing out, he’d never succumb.
The story made it clear that his peers had never really liked him, especially at the college level. Before moving on, I brought up the idea that when you looked at the story, there was nothing too damning beyond the kind of alcohol infraction experienced by hordes of college students every year—including myself. Two of Patrick’s dominant personality traits emerged early, and both worried his parents, Bill and Jeannette. He expected so much of himself that when he went into a slump, he’d transform into a sullen powder keg of frustration and anger, to the point that his parents wondered whether or not he was truly enjoying the sport.
As it turned out, those unknown quantities were Russell Henley, Harris English, and Hudson Swafford, all of whom panned out in a big way.
It was too late for Reed to reverse course, though, and when he finally came to Georgia, he found himself as a cog in a stacked roster that included the three super sophomores and senior star Brian Harman.
He proved an elusive figure, even with a cooperative agent, but I finally sat down with him and Justine—his wife and former caddie, who had just given birth to their first child—at the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia in early July. He won the Louisiana state championship as a junior, and because he already had enough credits to play Division-1 golf, Georgia coach Chris Haack encouraged him to come to school a year early.
I held off on his college years as long as I could, but eventually I broached the topic, which led to an awkward exchange: Me: Did you read Ian O’Connor’s article? Me: I mean, a lot of people want to know- Patrick: I talked to him about it. The class above Reed was full of unknown quantities, and Haack thought he might need Patrick sooner than expected.
Reed said he’d played golf with a professor at the school and hustled him out of the cash.
The player in question took this claim to the professor, who had no idea what he was talking about—it had been weeks since the man had played with Reed.
That same fall, several items went missing from the Georgia locker room, including a watch, a Scotty Cameron putter, and 0 cash.