Patrick Reed has had a complicated career. The highs are obvious and unquestionable (victory at the 2018 Masters, starring role in the 2016 Ryder Cup). He’s an uber-talented player, but one with a checkered history filled with controversies that date to his college years and continue right up to his disappointing Ryder Cup showing at Le Golf National.
On Saturday night prior to his triumph in the final round of the 2018 Masters, 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.”
Here’s a brief history of Reed, the accolades he’s accomplished on the course and a few of the hiccups (alleged or otherwise) he’s had off it.
Reed’s college days
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.
Blogger Stephanie Wei obtained a statement from Jason Payne, the assistant golf coach at Georgia during Reed’s year there.
“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.
Reed led Augusta State to NCAA Division I titles in 2010 and 2011.
A top-five player in the world?
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 be the last.
The making of a Ryder Cup star
Patrick Reed’s Masters victory was his sixth career PGA Tour win, but until then he was mostly known for his Ryder Cup acumen.
He went 3-0-1 in his Ryder Cup debut at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2014, and two years later he was 3-1-1 at Hazeltine in Minnesota.
In 2014 he put one finger to his mouth and shushed the crowd — an action that has since taken on a life of its own — and in 2016 he went head to head with Rory McIlroy in Sunday singles in one of the most epic Ryder Cup matches. They went blow for blow, trading big putts, birdies, fist pumps and primal screams. Reed won 1 up.
Reed’s Ryder Cup record and fierce attitude on the course is the reason he’s dubbed “Captain America.”
Reed’s Masters victory and celebration
Reed has been estranged from his parents and younger sister for years now (they were not at Augusta National on Masters Sunday when Reed won his first major). Alan Shipnuck gets into the nitty gritty of it here, and he also covers an incident at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, when police reportedly 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.
Reed’s parents still live in Augusta.
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.
Then, at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational, 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.
Camera crew confrontation
And then there was the Porsche European Open in July. As Reed stood over a chip on the 10th hole, Golf Channel’s broadcast caught Reed’s caddie, Kessler Karain, who is also his brother-in-law, making forceful gestures at the camera crew.
Players and caddies moving crowds and camera crews out of their way isn’t rare, but in this case both Karain and Reed were bothered by something more. Startled by a noise, Reed stepped off his ball, allowing Karain to confront the crew. “You’re rattling change in your pocket,” Karain said. “That’s what I’m pointing at you for.”
After telling them to stop, Reed took things further. “You know what? No. I need y’all to to go over there at that side of the green,” he said, pointing across the green. “Camera guy too, sorry. Because he’s part of you. He lost privileges by going like that with change.”
Free Red Sox tickets brouhaha
On Wednesday night before the 2018 Dell Technologies Championship, Reed attended a Red Sox game with his wife, Justine, and his sister-in-law. Reed received the tickets through the PGA Tour, but, upon arrival at the game, found their location less than pleasing. Upset at sitting in Fenway’s “line drive section,” Reed took to social media.
“Thank you @pgatour for the tickets to the @RedSox game tonight,” he wrote on Twitter and Instagram. “I love how you put my wife, sister in law and myself in the line drive section. We paid $650 to upgrade our seats and ended up in the same section as the rest of the @PGATOUR! #frontrow.” He clarified the situation in a reply tweet. “*we paid $650 to upgrade and ended up with everyone else on the @PGATOUR #shocker,” he wrote.
The complaints set off a frenzy of criticism on social media.
The unraveling(?) of a Ryder Cup star
The 2018 Ryder Cup was a study in contrasts for Reed, who went 1-2 at Le Golf National and sat both afternoon sessions the first two days. After the tournament, Reed sounded off to a New York Times reporter.
In the post-tournament press conference, Spieth and Reed were asked why they weren’t paired together in Paris considering their strong record as a team. Spieth answered, so did captain Jim Furyk, but Reed didn’t. Reed, however, had a lot to say when Times reporter Karen Crouse got a hold off him after.
“I was looking at [Spieth] like I was about to light the room up like Phil in ’14,” Reed said. Phil Mickelson went scorched-earth during the loser’s press conference in 2014, criticizing captain Tom Watson after he was benched for Saturday’s sessions.
Reed continued, saying, “The issue’s obviously with Jordan not wanting to play with me. I don’t have any issue with Jordan. When it comes right down to it, I don’t care if I like the person I’m paired with or if the person likes me as long as it works and it sets up the team for success. He and I know how to make each other better. We know how to get the job done.”
He then threw captain Furyk under the bus for benching him on Saturday afternoon, “For somebody as successful in the Ryder Cup as I am, I don’t think it’s smart to sit me twice.”
But he wasn’t the only Reed making waves with complaints during Ryder Cup week.
Justine Reed, Patrick’s wife, had turned to Twitter over the weekend to complain about the pairings. “Maybe you should ask Jordan,” she told one user in reference to the Spieth/Reed split. She also called coverage of her husband “unspeakably awful.”
Reed beat Tyrrell Hatton in Sunday singles for his only win of the week.
Reed penalized for improving lie
The 2019 Hero World Challenge started as a low-stress exhibition and essentially a Presidents Cup warm-up in the Bahamas. But during the third round on Friday Reed turned it into one of the most talked about events of the week.
Reed’s drive on the par-5 11th hole found the waste area, and he proceeded to put his club behind the ball and take two practice swings before knocking it out and making bogey. But eventually the footage was looked at more closely, and it looked as if Reed had brushed away sand with each backswing.
Paul Azinger, who was covering the event for Golf Channel, said: “If that’s not improving your lie, I don’t know what is. He knows better. I don’t know why that happened or what he was thinking.”
Patrick Reed gets busted cheating at the Hero World Challenge pic.twitter.com/r25cE6zenE
— Viral Sports (@NotScTop10plays) December 6, 2019
Reed was eventually penalized two strokes for violation of Rule 8.1 for improving his lie. Afterward he accepted the penalty but added that a different camera angle, as opposed to directly behind him, would have showed he did not improve his lie. (The penalty proved costly, as Reed ended up losing by that margin to Hero champ Henrik Stenson.)
Reed faced much criticism in the hours, and days, following the rules violation. Australian Cameron Smith went as far as to say “I don’t have sympathy for anyone who cheats.” During this time a video also surfaced of him doing almost the same thing in sand at the 2015 Hero World Challenge, although he was never penalized for it.