On Sunday, with the sun setting on the 18th green at Augusta National Golf Club, The Masters Tournament crowned its newest champion. Over the course of four days, Patrick Reed, a controversial, brash, and cocky 27-year-old from Texas, proved the best of the elite 86-man field, finishing with a 1-under par 71 for a one-stroke victory over Rickie Fowler.
Reed is not a stranger to the big moment. Although his Masters win was the first major victory of his P.G.A. Tour career — the Masters is one of four majors on the Tour along with the U.S. Open, The Open Championship, and the P.G.A. Championship — Reed has now won six times on Tour.
He has also played a key role in the past two Ryder Cups, a biennial team competition between Europe and the United States, posting a 6-1-2 record in the two competitions. At the Ryder Cup, emotions run high, and Reed has not backed down from the action. In 2014, during his tournament debut at Gleneagles in Scotland, he put one finger to his mouth and shushed the home crowd after making a long putt in a victory over Henrik Stenson. His actions in Scotland prompted both a wave of support from those who admired his confidence and grit and one of criticism from those who found his actions disrespectful and over-the-top.
Reed’s Ryder Cup swagger and success carried over to the 2016 tournament at Hazeltine National in Minnesota. In his Sunday singles match, Reed went blow-for-blow against four-time major winner and reigning FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy in perhaps the most exciting, energetic, and emotional match in Ryder Cup history. Throughout the match, Reed and McIlroy exchanged long putts, fist pumps, and primal screams. Reed eventually beat McIlroy by one hole in the match play competition.
Due to his Ryder Cup record and fierce attitude on the course, Reed has been given the nickname Captain America by some of his fans.
Although Reed has received criticism for his Ryder Cup antics, his controversial figure does not end there. In fact, the backlash against Reed started during his college days at the University of Georgia.
In 2008, Reed enrolled at Georgia, joining a veteran golf team that included P.G.A. Tour winners Hudson Swafford, Brian Harman, Harris English, and Russell Henley. However, Reed’s stay in Athens was short-lived. During his one year at Georgia, Reed was accused of cheating during a qualifying round, blamed for the theft of personal items and 400 dollars in cash from the team locker room, and arrested twice for alcohol-related incidences.
Jason Payne, the assistant golf coach at Georgia during Reed’s tenure, described Reed’s short-lived stint as a Bulldog to blogger Stephanie Wei, “Once Patrick was on campus for a few months, it became clear that Patrick was not going to mesh with the makeup of the team at that time, and he was dismissed from the team. There is no doubting the ability of Patrick as a golfer, it was Patrick as a person that we chose not to associate with.”
Having lost the trust of his coach and teammates, Reed transferred to Augusta State University — located in the same town as Augusta National — where he moved in with his parents. At Augusta State, Reed found success on the course, leading the Jaguars to back-to-back national titles in 2010 and 2011. However, off the course, Reed’s abrasive behavior and alleged cheating again led to fall outs with his teammates, escalating to the point at that his teammates considered taking a vote to kick him off the team.
Although despised by his teammates, in 2011, Reed found solace at Augusta State in the form of his then-girlfriend, now-wife Justine. The couple’s relationship developed quickly and they planned to wed in December of 2012, less than two years after they started dating.
Patrick’s parents were concerned about Patrick marrying at only 22 years old. However, after they voiced their concerns, Patrick completely cut ties with his family, failing to even invite his parents or younger sister to his wedding. In fact, Patrick still hasn’t spoken to his family, who watched the final round of The Masters just a few miles away in their Augusta house.
For the Reeds, Patrick’s victory at Augusta National was bittersweet.
After watching her son win one of the most important golf tournaments in the world, an emotional Jeannette Reed, with tears streaming down her face, told Golf.com’s Alan Shipnuck, “I can’t believe my son is the Masters champion. It’s surreal.”
Shipnuck, who was with the Reeds on Masters Sunday commented that Jeannette’s reaction, “was a dizzying mix of pride and pain.”
However, Patrick did not express any desire to see his family when asked at the post round press conference if it hurt to not have his parents there to celebrate with.
He stated bluntly, “I’m just out here to play golf and try to win golf tournaments.”
Unfortunately, the criticism of Patrick has been compounded by the fact that he is not friendly towards his fellow PGA Tour competitors.
In fact, many of his peers barely know the insular Reed. Ryan Moore, a Ryder Cup teammate of Reed, told Golf.com, “I don’t really know him, even though we played on the Ryder Cup team together. He keeps to himself and does his own thing.”
Daniel Berger, another P.G.A. Tour member, echoed Moore’s sentiments. When asked who Reed’s friends are on Tour, Berger responded, “To be honest, he doesn’t really play with the guys during practice rounds. He’s always by himself.”
On top of his family drama, unfriendly personality, and cockiness, Reed was once caught yelling a homophobic slur at a 2014 tournament in China.
Given his often unpleasant personality and questionable antics, perhaps it is not surprising that the biggest cheers on Sunday at the Masters went to Reed’s nearest challengers, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, and Rickie Fowler. Even after clinching the tournament with a four-foot putt on 18, the fans’ reaction was muted. In fact, the cheers for Reed were so quiet and awkward that it was hard to tell that he had won the tournament.
When asked at the post-round press conference why fans seem not to like him, Reed responded, “I don’t know. Why don’t you ask them? I mean, I have no idea, and honestly I don’t really care what people say on Twitter or what they say if they are cheering for me or not cheering for me. I’m out here to do my job, and that’s to play golf. I feel like if I’m doing it the right way, then that’s all that really matters.”
Although Patrick Reed is a controversial and unpopular figure on the P.G.A. Tour, he does not apologize for being himself. He is only concerned with being the best golfer he can be, and now, with a Masters title under his belt, the future looks bright for Reed.