Scott Michaux

Sports columnist for The Augusta Chronicle. | ScottMichaux.com

Michaux: 'Brightest star' Patrick Reed finds confidence at Doral

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DORAL, Fla. – You go wire-to-wire to become the youngest player to win a World Golf Championship against an elite field on a remade golf course with the Trump brand written all over it, perhaps it’s inevitable that a little of that brash Trump attitude rubs off.

“It’s just one of those things I believe in myself and I’m one of the top five players in the world,” Patrick Reed told a national TV audience after winning the biggest of his three PGA Tour events in 14 starts at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. “I feel like I’ve proven myself.”

Give the former Augusta State star credit. He’s even less afraid of saying something bold than he is of holding a lead against the best players in the world.

Reed never relinquished his lead on Sunday on a Blue Monster course that yielded only three under-par performances on the week. He even had the audacity to dress up just like Tiger Woods with the No. 1 player in the world falling apart with a 78 right in front of him.

“I have a lot of confidence in my game,” Reed said. “It’s one of those things that you build confidence by how hard you work. I feel like I’m one of the hardest workers out here and it definitely shows. I have three wins in 14 starts, especially in a field like this, to go wire-to-wire. It’s just one of those things that I feel like with how hard I’ve worked, I mean, I’m working my way up to become a top-five player in the world. But the thing is, I’m just going to take a little time in the fact that I haven’t been on the PGA Tour for very long.”

His not-quite-Richard Sherman-esque self-analysis didn’t exactly go over well in social media that’s quick to call out arrogance. And former tour pro Aaron Oberholser said in his analysis on the Golf Channel that it’s not likely to play well in the locker room.

But the rate Reed’s winning tournaments, perhaps his peers better get used to it.

Donald Trump – never one to shy away from an audacious boast – certainly liked what he saw and heard from the only guy who has won on his Trumped-up Doral course.

“I think he’s fantastic, I think he’s a real winner,” Trump said. “I predicted it this week. I’ve seen him a couple times before. Tough. He’s a very tough cookie and a really great golfer. He’s got the grit. That grit’s very important.”

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was duly impressed himself after drawing oohs and ahs from the gallery when he announced that the 23-year-old Reed clipped Woods by 26 days as the youngest ever winner of a WGC event.

“You’re one of the brightest stars on the future of the tour,” Finchem told Reed at the trophy presentation.

The only one not taken aback by Reed’s outspoken confidence was his former college coach at Augusta State, Josh Gregory. He’s seeing the same guy who led the Jaguars to consecutive NCAA championships in 2010-11 with a perfect 6-0 match play record.

“It sounds a little brash and bold, but that’s who he is,” Gregory said. “I’m sure he’s probably going to regret those comments and probably should have kept that to himself. Tiger Woods said the same kind of things when he was young and got beat up for it. But Patrick believes that deep down and that’s what makes him so special.”

Reed is certainly making believers in the golf world in short order. If the world didn’t see him coming, it’s only because they weren’t paying attention.

Reed was the Louisiana high school player of the year in 2007 after leading his University High team from Baton Rouge to back-to-back state titles. In 2008 he was a semifinalist in the U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst, losing to eventual winner Danny Lee.

At Augusta State he was the bedrock of those back-to-back national championship teams. Then after leaving college a year early he successfully converted six of eight Monday qualifying efforts into PGA Tour starts before earning his card through Q school at the end of the 2012.

Any other questions?

“It’s just shown that with how I’ve been playing to have three wins in 14 starts, to do the Monday qualifiers the way I did that, and just all those things that we had to go through, it’s just showing that we belong out here,” he said. “As well as we belong to be in the conversation every week. That, you know, we’ll contend at every tournament we step up at.”

In a month, Reed will step up for the first time in a major championship at the Masters Tournament on an Augusta National course he played three times in college. Is it ridiculous to think he can win actually win in his major debut?

Considering Francis Ouimet, Ben Curtis and Keegan Bradley have done just that, perhaps not.

“With what I’ve done this week and what I’ve done in my career, I know that any event I tee it up at I have a chance to win,” Reed said. “Before this event, my goal was to compete and be in contention coming down Sunday at Augusta. All these guys are going to be at Augusta, basically, so to go and go wire-to-wire, that definitely just gives me more confidence come Sunday that if I play how I’m supposed to at Augusta, that we’ll be in the running.”

If Reed is really a top-five player – and he really will be top 20 – then why not?

“It wouldn’t shock me,” said Gregory. “It would be one hell of a story.”


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