AUGUSTA, Ga. — Patrick Reed has won the 2018 Masters Tournament, but not many people are happy for him.
Reed, 27, has come a long way to get to the Green Jacket. And the explanation is a complicated one. He’s an uber-talented player but with a checkered history, one that’s filled with controversies that date to his college years.
On Saturday night, Reed was asked why some people — mostly on social media — tend to root against him.
“I don’t know. Why don’t you ask them?” he said. “I mean, 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 cheering for me. I’m out here to do my job, and that’s to play golf. I feel like if I’m doing it the right way, then that’s all that really matters.”
Reed played one year of college golf at the University of Georgia before being dismissed from the team. In Shane Ryan’s book, Slaying the Tiger: A Year Inside the Ropes on the New PGA Tour, Ryan brings to light accusations of Reed cheating and stealing from teammates. Reed denied the accusations in a Golf Channel interview, saying he was dismissed for alcohol violations.
“While getting to know Patrick through the recruiting process as a coach, a few character issues came to light, that we as coaches thought we could help Patrick with,” he said. “Once Patrick was on campus for a few months, it became clear that Patrick was not going to mesh with the make up of the team at that time, and he was dismissed from the team. There is no doubting the ability of Patrick as a golfer, it was Patrick as a person that we chose not to associate with. The story that has been reported by Shane Ryan is an accurate account of his college career at UGA—including the suspicions held by his former teammates.”
Reed transferred to his hometown Augusta State, but the smoke never fully cleared. Wie reported other instances of suspected cheating and a rift with teammates.
Blogger Stephanie Wei obtained a statement from Jason Payne, the assistant golf coach at Georgia during Reed’s year there.
He won the Wyndham Championship in August 2013 and twice more in 2014 — the Humana Challenge in January and the WGC-Cadillac Championship in March, in which he clipped Jamie Donaldson and Bubba Watson by a stroke. Reed, at 23, became the youngest player to win a WGC event, but what was more surprising is what he announced to the world that day. NBC ran a previously recorded interview with Reed during the telecast, in which Reed said he was a top-five player in the world. (He was 44th in the World Ranking at the time, and his win bumped him to 20th.) When asked about his comments after the victory, he doubled down.
“I’ve worked so hard, I’ve won a lot in my junior career, did great things in my amateur career, was 6-0 in match play in NCAAs, won NCAAs two years in a row, got third individually one year and now I have three wins out here on the PGA Tour,” he said. “I just don’t see a lot of guys that have done that, besides Tiger Woods, of course, and, you know, the other legends of the game. It’s just one of those things, I believe in myself and — especially with how hard I’ve worked — I’m one of the top-five players in the world. To come out in a field like this and to hold on wire to wire like that, I feel like I’ve proven myself.”
That was one of the first times the world saw Reed’s confidence and candor up close. It wouldn’t the the last.
Reed made headlines for the wrong reasons in November 2014, when he was caught on camera uttering a gay slur in frustration after missing a putt at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. He later apologized via Twitter.
More recently, at Bay Hill last month, Reed was looking for free relief after a shot into the bushes, but an official wouldn’t grant one. “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” he said to the gallery, which was picked up by a fan who was filming. While this seemed all in good fun, as Reed took a shot at his longtime Ryder Cup partner, it did radiate a touch of frustration. One might assume he wasn’t completely joking while in the heat of the moment.
Reed has been estranged from his parents and younger sister for years now. Alan Shipnuck’s 2015 feature on Reed and his wife, Justine, explains the nitty gritty of it. It also covers an incident at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, when police escorted Reed’s parents, Bill and Jeannette, off the grounds and the USGA confiscated their badges. Jeannette said Reed was acting on the wishes of Justine.
His parents still live in Augusta.