CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nobody at Quail Hollow this week has worked harder or more non-stop than Patrick Reed to get a tournament tee time.
The former Augusta State star is playing in his third consecutive PGA Tour event at the Wells Fargo Championship despite having no advance spot in the field. He’s bucking the odds in an old-school fashion with Monday qualifiers.
“Things have been rolling,” Reed said. “We’ve been running on fumes. Hope to do the same this week, keep building momentum.”
Reed’s run of Monday good fortune began three weeks ago in San Antonio. Hoping to qualify his way into the Texas Open, he got pulled off the third green and was offered a sponsor exemption on the spot after Peter Lonard had withdrawn from the field.
Given the chance, the 21-year-old tied for 35th and pocketed a career-best $29,915.
“I capitalized on it and had a really solid week,” he said.
With a boost in momentum, Reed jumped immediately in the car with his fiancee and drove 91/2 hours straight to New Orleans. On four hours sleep, he headed back out to another Monday qualifier. He shot 4-under to get in a four-man playoff for three spots in the PGA Tour field. He secured his place with a birdie on the second hole, hitting an 8-iron on the par 3 to 2 feet.
Once again, he took full advantage playing the last eight holes of Sunday’s Zurich Classic in 5-under-par to finish tied for 24th and pick up $51,840.
“I try not to look at it too much,” he said of his bank account. “I just try to improve every week and I know if I do that the money to get on tour will come.”
To that end, Reed left his car at the New Orleans airport and flew through Chicago to Greenville, S.C., on Sunday night and showed up Monday morning at Charlotte Golf Club for another qualifier. With a
15-foot birdie putt on the last hole to finish 5-under, he avoided an 11-man playoff for two spots into the Wells Fargo Championship. He got a chance to finally sleep in and was at Quail Hollow for a late afternoon practice round Tuesday.
“It’s hectic but it’s fun because you get to prove yourself,” he said. “Luckily this is my third week in a row and the guys I have seen out here have said congratulations. I’m starting to build relationships, which is making me more comfortable. If you feel comfortable you can play your best.”
It’s been that kind of year since Reed turned professional immediately after leading Augusta State to its second consecutive NCAA championship last June. He made his PGA Tour debut a week later in Memphis, but missed the cut.
He only ended up getting two more sponsor exemptions the rest of the year,
finishing 66th in Greensboro, N.C., and 75th in a Fall Series event.
“I thought we would have gotten more spots and I would have played a lot better last year,” Reed said. “I played4 solid last year, I just didn’t have anything great.”
He failed to advance past the second stage of PGA Tour qualifying school but made it to the final stage of European Tour Q-school before flaming out. That left him with no status on any major tour entering 2012.
“That just built my game stronger and made me hungrier going and not making it through there,” he said. “So when I came back here I had something to prove.”
Undeterred, Reed participated in a charity pro-am event in Trinidad & Tobago the first week of the year and won the event with four rounds in the 60s. His then career-best $25,000 check finally arrived in March, but the confidence boost was immediate.
“This year I couldn’t have asked for a better start,” he said. “That just jump-started it.”
Two days after winning there, he proposed to his girlfriend. Justine Karain has two bachelor’s degrees and is a registered nurse, but she put her career on hold to caddie for Reed.
With a high school career of her own, she has proven to be a big help as Reed barnstorms the tour.
“It’s been a long couple months, but very happy couple of months,” Reed said. “I have my fiancee on the bag. I’m very happy. I think that’s another reason why I’m playing so well, because I’m in a great state of mind and very happy. She’s keeping me calm. She’s the most positive one on the golf course. When I get down, she picks me up.”
Karain, who might top 5 feet in heels, doesn’t just carry Reed’s bag and offer positive reinforcement. On Friday in New Orleans when he needed to make a 12-foot putt on the 18th green to safely make the cut, it was Karain who gave Reed the line.
“I had no clue what the putt was doing,” he said. “She said ball out left and I made it. Give her credit, she read the putt perfectly on 18 (Sunday). I thought right edge, but she said, ‘No, left edge.’ I listened to her because I wasn’t putting that great that day, played it left edge and poured it in the center of the cup.
“She’s just a good-luck charm. I love having her on my bag because I love spending time with her.”
Now the only question the rest of the season seems to be where they’ll spend their time together. Reed’s run of success has them rethinking the gameplan for the remainder of 2012.
“We were going to chase the Nationwide Tour,” he said. “Now we’re actually going to sit and have conversation this week to figure out what we’re going to do, whether to do Nationwide or keep on chasing PGA. I feel like I’m playing well enough to play out here.”
Reed keeps proving it one Monday at a time.