clearn.png
Tuesday June 25th, 2019 1:45AM

Column: Warts and all, Reed returns as a Masters champion

By The Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Call him The Imperfect Champion.

Warts and all, Patrick Reed enters the Masters as the reigning holder of the green jacket.

He's an anomaly at staid, ol' Augusta National, which has always preferred bland and homogenized winners, who'll always say the right things without saying much of anything.

Patrick Reed, that's not.

His family life is messy. His attitude is brash. His college days are pock-marked with allegations of cheating and teammates wronged.

That's OK.

Villains are more fun anyway.

"Everyone has their own different personalities," Reed said in the lead-up to the Masters, which begins Thursday. "The biggest thing is to be true to yourself and go out and do what it is that you feel like is best for you, best for your team and also helps you perform the best."

For Reed, that means surrounding himself with a small but tight-knit group. That means working harder than anyone on the course. That means saying what's on his mind, even if that rubs some people the wrong way.

"He's not going to put on a comedy show. That's not his cup of tea," said Jason Alexander, the pro at Reed's home course, The Club at Carlton Woods near Houston.

"I know there are guys on tour who are very concerned what the media thinks of them," Alexander continued during a phone interview Wednesday. "I think they play to that. You'll hear people say, 'They're the nicest guys, they sign all this stuff for the fans,' but when you see them behind closed doors, they're totally different. Patrick Reed is the same guy, whether he's on the range (at his home course) or at the Masters. He's himself. I think he's proud of himself. I think he's proud of the way he handles himself. He's true to himself. He's not fake."

A year ago, when Reed was on the way to his first major championship, much was made of the fact that his parents and little sister were only 15 minutes away, watching on television at the home where Reed lived while leading Augusta State to a pair of national titles. The family has been estranged since 2012. Reed has cut off all contact, apparently rebuffing any attempt at reconciliation.

Shortly after his one-stroke victory over Rickie Fowler, Reed was asked if he regretted that his parents and sibling weren't at Augusta National for the most triumphant moment of his career. The reply was cold and distant.

"I mean, I'm just out here to play golf and try to win golf tournaments," Reed said.

He has never discussed the fractured relationship, leaving others to speculate — thanks in part to comments from his family — that his wife, Justine, is the root of the problem. But no one beyond the parties involved really knows what happened. Wading into a broken family is a perilous misadventure.

Of course, Reed has never been frugal with his words — or his ego — when it comes to sizing up things with a club in his hands.

In 2014, after becoming the youngest winner of a World Golf Championship event at Doral, he declared himself one of the planet's top five players. After a crushing U.S. loss to Europe in last year's Ryder Cup, the golfer who had embraced the role of "Captain America" griped to The New York Times about Jordan Spieth being responsible for breaking up a pairing that had worked so well at previous team events, as well as Jim Furyk's decision to bench Reed for both foursome sessions.

"For somebody as successful in the Ryder Cup as I am, I don't think it's smart to sit me twice," Reed said, conveniently overlooking that he lost both fourball matches playing alongside Tiger Woods.

When Reed first began playing at Carlton Woods, Alexander was a bit wary.

He'd heard the same stories about the kid who was supposedly caught cheating — and even suspected of stealing in the locker room — during his first college stop at the University of Georgia, a guy who was apparently such an obnoxious brat that Georgia alum Kevin Kisner (who played for the Bulldogs before Reed's arrival) said bluntly that he was reviled by all his teammates at both schools.

"I don't know that they'd p--- on him if he was on fire," Kisner told GolfDigest.com for a story published last December.

That folded quite neatly into Alexander's initial impression.

"When he first came out, he lived up the billing," the club pro said. "He said, 'I want to go practice. Make sure no one bothers me.' He was very regimented about his work."

But as Alexander got to know Reed, the walls began to come down. He discovered a tireless worker, a guy who relished the grind of countless hours on the practice range.

"If anything, I probably hit too many golf balls," Reed conceded this week.

Beyond the course, Alexander found a person who's generous with his time, who works tirelessly behind the scenes to promote junior golf, who's devoted to his wife and their two children, who craves acceptance and longs to be respected but isn't about to change who he is.

Shortly after his Masters victory, Reed returned to Carlton Woods for a celebration. The club put on a big dinner, and Reed hung around to sign some 250 autographs for members and their families.

"As we're walking out, he gave me a hug," Alexander recalled. "He told me, 'Thanks for tonight.' He even got a little emotional. Here's this big-time guy, but he's telling me, 'I just haven't felt this sort of genuine support before. Ever.' As much as he acts like it doesn't bother him, I think it does."

Even though Reed is the defending champion, he won't get the biggest cheers at Augusta National this week. Those will go to players such as Woods and Spieth and Rory McIlroy. You know, the popular ones.

Too bad.

Villains are always more fun.

___

Paul Newberry is a sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry@ap.org or at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry

___

For more AP golf coverage: https://apnews.com/apf-Golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Golf, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Sports - PGA
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Yahoo to pay $117.5M in latest settlement of massive breach
Nearly 200 million people ensnared in Yahoo data breach eligible for up to $117.5 million in free services, other potential restitution
4:20PM ( 3 minutes ago )
Backstage at Brexit summit: Huddles, iPad jokes, cod dinner
A daylong diplomatic ballet is playing out in the European Quarter of Brussels for another high-stakes Brexit summit
4:15PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Science fact: Astronomers reveal first image of a black hole
Humanity has gotten its first glimpse of a black hole, and it looks like a flaming doughnut
4:14PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Spieth hopeful Masters memories can help him end slump
For Jordan Spieth, no better than time than now, no better course than Augusta to snap out of slump
3:19PM ( 1 hour ago )
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has book coming in the fall
Nikki Haley, the former United Nations ambassador and South Carolina governor, has a book deal
1:00PM ( 3 hours ago )
RJ Barrett to enter NBA draft after 1 season at Duke
RJ Barrett is leaving Duke after one season to enter the NBA draft
12:31PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Sports
Marilynn Smith, Hall of Famer and LPGA founder, dies at 89
Marilynn Smith, Hall of Famer and relentless promoter as LPGA founder, dies at 89 in Arizona
11:39AM ( 1 day ago )
Jin Young Ko wins ANA Inspiration for first major title
Jin Young Ko won the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills for her first major title and second victory in three weeks
11:36PM ( 2 days ago )
Conners wins Valero days after qualifying, will play Masters
Corey Conners claimed his first PGA Tour victory and earned an invite to the Masters, winning the Valero Texas Open less than a week after qualifying
9:07PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Online Golf
Atlanta officer charged in wreck that led driver to lose arm
An Atlanta police officer has been indicted on charges including reckless driving in a wreck that caused another driver to lose an arm
8:57AM ( 3 months ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
Woods meets his match in Lucas Bjerregaard at Match Play
Tiger Woods beat McIlroy, then ousted from Match Play be Lucas Bjerregaard
9:07PM ( 1 week ago )
Tiger Woods finally met match, and it wasn't Rory McIlroy
Tiger Woods finally met his match, and it wasn't Rory McIlroy
6:59PM ( 1 week ago )
Woods advances at Match Play after McIlroy meltdown
Woods wins a big match at Match Play that turns on a big blunder by McIlroy
2:34PM ( 1 week ago )
AP Sports - PGA
Backstage at Brexit summit: Huddles, iPad jokes, cod dinner
A daylong diplomatic ballet is playing out in the European Quarter of Brussels for another high-stakes Brexit summit
4:15PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Science fact: Astronomers reveal first image of a black hole
Humanity has gotten its first glimpse of a black hole, and it looks like a flaming doughnut
4:14PM ( 10 minutes ago )
The Latest: Nielsen opens new DHS campus on her last day
Outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is welcoming employees to their new campus on her last day on the job
3:57PM ( 26 minutes ago )
AP Interview: Pelosi: 'I don't trust Barr; I trust Mueller'
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she doesn't trust Attorney General William Barr and suggests his testimony on 'spying' on Donald Trump's campaign undermines his independence as the nation's top law enforcement officer
3:56PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Lawyer: Challenge to NYC's vaccination order in the works
A civil rights attorney says opponents are planning a lawsuit this week over New York City's order requiring everyone in a heavily Orthodox Jewish neighborhood to be vaccinated for measles
3:54PM ( 30 minutes ago )