Whirlwind continues for Reed, in Memphis

Former Augusta State golfer Patrick Reed, who is playing in the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, met patient Evan Patrick during a visit to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital this week.

Patrick Reed's life is a blur. Riding a hot streak will do that to you.


Fresh off leading Augusta State to its second consecutive national title in golf, Reed didn't even pause to reflect. The junior kept right on rolling directly into his professional debut at the PGA Tour's stop in Memphis, Tenn., which starts today.

"Huge two weeks," Reed said of his uninterrupted career transition. "I feel like it was a great decision and the right thing to do. I'm ready."

Reed got a phone call from the folks in Memphis inviting him to play this week shortly before the Jaguars were set to tee off against Georgia Tech in the match-play quarterfinals on Friday. Reed convinced the tournament organizers he was the guy for the exemption by shooting 1-under and tying for third in the stroke-play portion of the collegiate championship.

"I knew I was on the short list," Reed said of the interest from Memphis. "It was one of the happiest moments to have that phone call come through."

That phone call certainly didn't distract Reed (he swept through all three of his matches with victories for the second consecutive year), but it definitely accelerated his plans. The junior had already decided to turn pro, but he intended to wait until after the Walker Cup Matches in September. As one of the top-20 ranked amateurs in the world, Reed was a strong candidate to compete for the U.S. team against Great Britain & Ireland at Royal Aberdeen.

Along the way would have come other significant opportunities including the U.S. Amateur, in which he was a semifinalist two years ago. With his match play record that includes dominant victories over reigning U.S. Amateur champ Peter Uihlein of Oklahoma State and the past two NCAA Tournaments, he'd have been among the favorites to earn a berth in the Masters Tournament.

But he forfeited all that to get a head start on his career.

"It just felt like an opportunity I couldn't pass up at this time," he said. "I feel like I'm playing extremely well right now. I have all the confidence in the world going into this event. I feel like I belong out here. That was the key."

Can't argue with his logic. Reed has been a consistent force for the Jaguars for two seasons, recording 15 top-10 finishes in 21 events including 12 top-5s and two wins. He shot a pair of 67s to earn tri-medalist honors in the NCAA Regionals in May and then shot under par in the championships on a Karsten Creek Club that was set up like a U.S. Open.

"It just shows that my game is where it needs to be," he said. "I felt so comfortable playing there I felt like I needed a new challenge. Playing against these guys, it doesn't get more challenging than this."

Reed is certainly comfortable with the TPC Southwind course where the PGA Tour plays this week. In 2005, he won his only AJGA event there.

"The course back then seemed a lot longer because you'd hit it a lot shorter," he said. "It is great to have that win under my belt, and it definitely makes me more comfortable coming back here since I already know the course."

Last week got him prepared in another way. Collegiate and amateur golf isn't typically played in front of large galleries, but Reed got a taste of what it's like facing thousands of hostile Oklahoma State fans against the Cowboys on their home course.

"Oklahoma State -- that felt like a football game," Reed said. "It was bleeding nothing but orange out there. I loved having that atmosphere. Having all those eyes watching me will help me cope with the fact that I'll have a lot of eyes watching me this week. I felt like that was great preparation."

Few professional debuts are overshadowed by the events of the previous weekend. Winning a second NCAA title was even bigger than the first, Reed said.

"I think the second one was the best because we got to play Oklahoma State on its home course and we got to play Georgia Tech and Georgia," he said. "Plus we knew that all of us were leaving and nobody was coming back. We were excited to win but I'm sad that it had to end."

Reed fittingly clinched the final point against his former Georgia teammates.

"It was the ultimate high when we won that match," he said. "I was glad it came down to me and being able to close it out like that was a special moment."

Reed didn't have long to celebrate and say goodbye to his teammates and coach before going their separate ways. He got a head start by climbing in a car with his parents and driving seven-and-a-half hours through the night to Memphis. The morning after winning a second straight national title, Reed was teeing it up on the professional side of a pro-am. A day later, he was invited to his first professional visit to the interview room.

"It happened all so quick and I'm still living high," he said. "It's been a high moment for two weeks straight. Couldn't ask for anything better."

Kevin McPherson -- the Augusta State women's coach who is a candidate to replace Josh Gregory at the helm of the men's program -- will caddie for Reed in his debut in Memphis.

"He walked with me every day at the NCAAs and kept me relaxed," Reed said. "I felt that was something I needed and I wouldn't want anyone else on the bag this week."

Riding the hot streak that he is, Reed isn't lacking in confidence.

"We're going to have a lot of fun and a good time," Reed said. "You never know. Maybe I'll be able to come out of here with a 'W' too. ... It could happen. If I play the way I hope to, I could be in contention come Sunday."

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CHAT with Carter Newman of Augusta State's Division I golf championship team, beginning at 10 a.m. Friday at augustachronicle.com.

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Coming Sunday

The Chronicle will commemorate the Jaguars' second consecutive national championship with a special section.