By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
GREENSBORO, N.C. — He saw the ball headed right toward several oak trees. When he saw the volunteer signal that his drive had landed out of bounds, though, Patrick Reed’s heart absolutely sank.
“I was about to burst out right there,” he recalled, stopping short of adding the words, in tears. “I had to pull my hat down over my head. I was just so frustrated and sad.”
When Reed looked up, he could see the disappointment on his wife Justine’s face, and it tore him apart. They are a team in every sense of the word. The petite blonde caddies for her husband and more than once this week at the Wyndham Championship he had credited successful putts he made to her keen eye.
The couple was so close to their first PGA TOUR victory, after all. This was the second hole of sudden death and OB would have spelled disaster.
So the 23-year-old had no choice but to take a deep breath and compose himself. Before he hit his provisional, though, Reed saw several people run out into the fairway and give him the safe signal. He had a chance now, and he planned to take advantage.
“I was ‘all right, let’s go do it,'” Reed said.
When the former Augusta State All-American finally got to his ball, it was leaning against a wire, resting atop some dirt, a few twigs, even a couple of spiders — basically “anything you’d find in the wilderness,” he said. But once he moved the wire, Reed knew he could get a club cleanly on the ball.
Now hitting it straight — Reed’s go-to shot is a draw — under one tree and past two others was another story. Not to mention, the ball was so far above his feet, Reed felt like he was a kid playing tee-ball again.
“I had to step up and hit the shot that I’ve been fighting all year,” Reed said. “The dead straight golf shot. I don’t see straight lines. I see curves. To set up and try to hit a dead straight golf shot from a baseball lie was going to be do or die. I don’t know how I pulled it off.”
Adding to the pressure? Well, Jordan Spieth’s approach had just settled 10 feet from the pin. Reed didn’t know just how close but he had heard the cheers.
Spieth acknowledged he was feeling pretty good about his chances.
“I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m going to have a putt to win the golf tournament,'” the 20-year-old, who had walked over to look at Reed’s ball in the woods, recalled. “That’s the way I was thinking.”
Spieth was almost at the green when Reed hit his 7-iron. He watched as it glided through the air. Spieth figured it would come up short. But it kept tracking toward the flagstick.“Wow, that looks really good,” Spieth remembers thinking, “crazy” good, he would later say. “… Hit right there and stopped right at the crest of the hill 7 feet away. It was one of the best shots I’ve ever witnessed so obviously he won’t forget it.”
Spieth turned around and gave Reed a thumbs up.
There was still work to be done, of course. Spieth — who had drained a 26-footer for par on the first playoff hole — putted first, and the ball broke a tad too late, hitting the lip but stubbornly refusing to drop into the hole.
But Reed’s 7-footer — which “felt like it was 40,” he said — was on the mark.
In that instant, Reed’s life changed.
The man who survived six Monday qualifiers last year now has job security for two more. He’s in two majors — including the Masters he covets so much — and headed to New Jersey on Monday in a private plane to play in the FedExCup Playoffs for the first time. He enters The Barclays ranked 22nd and assured of at least three Playoffs starts, too.
“I have all the momentum in the world coming off a win, playing like I have,” said Reed, who has now finished 10th or better in his last three starts. “… I have nothing to lose. I secured literally every goal that we had this year.
“… The confidence is out of the roof. I can’t wait to play next week. I have to come off my high, that’s for sure and I’m going to try to do that tomorrow.”
By Tuesday, though, Reed will get in a practice round at Liberty National and go back to doing what he does best
“Just grinding, working hard, you know, and enjoying the time I have with my wife out there with me,” Reed said.