Controversial statements, accusations and uneasy family relations have marked the career of the 2018 Masters champion Captain America
After the third round, Patrick Reed was in the interview room at Augusta National, talking journalists through his day. He had just scored 67, which made him the first person in eight years to shoot in the 60s for all the first three rounds of the Masters. He was asked about pressure, his iron play, the Ryder Cup. Then came this: Patrick, it doesnt take much to do a quick Twitter search to find a lot of people rooting against you. Why do you think that is? Why are there fans that dont embrace you? The question hung there in the air, while the temperature dropped a notch.
Reed managed a wry smile before he replied: I dont know. Why dont you ask them? I mean, I have no idea, and honestly I dont really care what people say on Twitter or what they say if they are cheering for me or not cheering for me. Im out here to do my job, and thats to play golf. The Masters isnt a popularity contest, after all. Which is a good thing for him. There werent many cheering for him on Sunday. Certainly not so many as were pulling for Rory McIlroy or Jordan Spieth or Rickie Fowler. Reed studied at Augusta State, and his parents live in city, but he is hardly a home favourite.
Until now, Reed has been best known for the way he plays in the Ryder Cup, where he goes by the nickname Captain America. Spieth, who played with Reed on the last two teams, and pushed him so hard here on Sunday, says that for Reed the Ryder Cup isnt about winning so much as about sticking the knife in. Back when Reed played the singles at Gleneagles, he made a birdie putt on the 7th then put a finger to his lips to shush the crowd. He enjoyed the moment so much that he had the image of it put in silhouette on his belt buckle.
That was just pantomime stuff compared to the rest of his rap sheet. In 2014, Reed was caught on mic saying, Nice fucking three-putt, you fucking faggot, to himself after he missed a putt at a WGC event in Shanghai. Reed apologised for it, and seemed genuinely sorry. But he never regretted the other set of headline-making comments he made that year, when he described himself as one of the top five players in the world. He was 23 at the time, and hadnt even played in a major.
The following year, ESPN asked 103 tour golfers which of their fellow pros theyd be least likely help out in a fight. Reed came second. Spieth tells another story from the Ryder Cup. Reed was trash-talking to a vice-captain, Tiger Woods. Dont worry, Patrick, you only need 74 more wins and 14 more majors, Woods told him. You dont really hear Tiger talk about everything hes dropped, said Spieth, but he used it there, because he was just like: Screw this guy. Im using this right now. Who is this guy?
Still Reeds hardly the only brash young golfer on tour, and after four years his fellow pros have got used his style. Its when you get a little deeper into the weeds that everything becomes more complicated. There have always been rumours about Reeds time at the University of Georgia, before he transferred to Augusta State. Reeds always said that he left UGA because of two drinking offences. But in his book Slaying The Tiger, author Shane Ryan wrote that Reed had also been accused of cheating by his team-mates at UGA.
Ryan alleged that Reeds team-mates had caught him trying to play a ball that wasnt his during a qualifying tournament, after hed hit his own into the rough. Ryan also alleged that Reeds team-mates suspected him of stealing from the locker room. Reed denied both accusations, and produced a sworn statement from his old UGA head coach Chris Haack, who said he was not aware of any allegation of cheating or theft against Reed while he was at UGA. But then Haacks assistant, Jason Payne, had another version. The story that has been reported by Shane Ryan is an accurate account of his college career at UGA said Payne, including the suspicions held by his former team-mates.
On top of that, theres the messy relationship between Reed and his family which couldnt help but bubble up this week given his parents live in Augusta but werent at the course.
No one really knows what goes on inside another family, but the Reeds situation has spilled out into the open. His wife reportedly had her in-laws escorted off the course when they turned up to support him at the US Open in 2014. And back in 2016, Reeds sister described him as a selfish, horrible stranger in a Facebook post defending her parents.
If you dont believe in yourself, Reed once said, no one else is going to. Which is true. But if you do, it doesnt necessarily follow that they will too. Even if you are the Masters champion.
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