Anand Datla

Patrick Reed isn’t popular, but he is a champion

Patrick Reed played a gritty round of Sunday golf to clinch the Masters Championship with a workmanlike 71. Not popular but a great champion just the same

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2018 Masters - Patrick Reed

Augusta, 09 April: The raging discontent inside Patrick Reed is like a volcano, the occasional fumes serving to remind us of the brewing inferno that cooks underneath the quiet surface. The Masters champion is a maligned golfer that is easily disliked by the fans.

There is a strange dichotomy about everything that surrounds the 27 year old, baby faced champion. He is surrounded by a tight knit family circle – wife Justine Karain, her brother and caddie Kessler. Even the mother-in-law is a constant traveler, managing their lives on the road. Yet, Reed hasn’t made contact with his parents and sister since 2012.

The strong bonds with the Karains and the estrangement with his own family present the contrasting shades that colour the young man’s life.

Reed made his name by delivering fatal blows to Europe in the Ryder Cup. He has reveled in the team setting and has earned the right to be called Captain America. Yet hardly anyone on the team knows Reed personally. As much as he is a brilliantly outstanding team player, he prefers to isolate himself from his own team members.

With Reed, it appears that the young man battles the rage within through a quiet confidence in the self. He has let his game do all the talking, even while brushing aside fan apathy and media curiosity about the mysteries of his personality.

At the Masters, the patrons cheered loudly for Ulsterman Rory McIlroy, at least so long as he managed to stay in contention. Then they moved on to Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, but Reed managed to draw just a mute response to his own heroics around Augusta National.

Reed’s collegiate history and open confrontation with his parents have painted a villainous portrait that precedes him around the tour.

There have been unsubstantiated claims of cheating and theft while he was at Georgia, by his own college mates. Reed was kicked out of the team eventually, and he claims it was the result of two drinking incidents.

Reed moved on quickly as he found space at Augusta State, where he met his wife, and helped an unheralded team win two Division 1 national titles. It was during this time that differences erupted, as his parents disapproved of his decision to marry Justine.

Reed went ahead with the marriage in 2012, without inviting his parents, Bill and Jeannette Reed. The sourness deepened when Bill, Jeannette and sister Hannah, out to support Patrick in the US Open 2014, were escorted out from around the 18th green, apparently on instructions from Justine.

After winning the Masters, there were plenty of questions about his lack of fan connect and the personal discord in his life.

“I don’t ever regret anything I really say,” Reed said. “I stand by my comments. I feel like I’ve played some golf that I need to play in order to get to where I want to be, and that’s to be the best golfer in the world. The way you’re going to do that is perform in these big events and to win these big events.

“I’m just happy to be able to say I’ve gotten over that hump of not winning at all last year. Coming into the year one of my biggest goals was to win a major and compete in golf tournaments. To be able to get them both at once, to end the drought and win a major, it helps me mentally, and also helps my resume, and hopefully I can just take this momentum going forward and play some really solid golf.”

Very business-like, very Reed like.

Now that the first major is in the bag, Reed wants to go on and conquer new peaks. He would like to win more majors and also be the top golfer in the rankings. And if fans do not like that, it is their problem, not Reed’s.

He was asked in the Sunday presser, if it was bitter sweet not to be able to share his moments of success with his parents and sister. “I mean, I’m just out here to play golf and try to win golf tournaments,” replied an indignant Reed, in a rather terse tone.

He sure did that on Sunday, delivering under pressure on the most demanding back nine in the game of golf. It does not matter if you like him or not, Reed is your Masters champion, now and forerver.

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