AUGUSTA, Ga. – Patrick Reed's par putt stayed above the hole on the 18th green of Augusta National, giving him a bogey-bogey-bogey finish and putting him 1-over after the opening round of the Masters.
He flipped his putter in the air in frustration before catching it, looking for a second like he was going to try to snap it in half. He didn't.
Three years ago Patrick Reed was a student at nearby Augusta State. A year ago he watched the opening round of the Masters on television from home.
Since then he's won three PGA events, taken to wearing red on Sunday like his idol Tiger Woods and, famously, declared himself a top-5 player in the world. He then scoffed at the backlash, pointing out that confidence is a necessity for true greatness. And besides, you don't get strokes taken off for humility or popularity.
So after his round crashed and burned at the end here – in this, his first ever major appearance – Reed stood in the Augusta National locker room and, in line with his personality, didn't even try to play some woe-is-me card. He actually sounded more confident than ever, because the bogeys weren't really the problem, the pars and birdies were.
"I didn't hit a single solid shot all day," Reed said. "Well, I had one solid shot on 15, but everything else was either off the heel or off the toe."
It's worth pointing out that he was 2-under through 15 and his finish was part bad bounce (off the 17 green) and part close miss (a putt on 18).
"Patrick got a little unlucky," playing partner Rory McIlroy said.
Reed disagreed about the bad bounce that sent his ball rolling off the 17th green. Yes, one more foot and it would've been fine, but "the problem was I hit a heal-y drive and had to shoot 8-iron in. I have to hit the drive straight."
No excuse. And no fear.
[Slideshow: Round 1 of the Masters]
Make no mistake, Patrick Reed wasn't pleased at all Thursday afternoon, except for the fact that if he can play as bad as he said he did, if he can not crumble under a tough set up and if he can not be effected by whatever nerves a 23-year-old is supposed to have in his first round in a major championship, then maybe this isn't so tough. Everything is possible. He wasn't wrong about a thing.
"If I do half the things better tomorrow, I'll be fine," he said.
Later he noted, "If I can get it turned around, who knows?"
And then, "I'm here to compete and try to win the event."
Nothing that happened here Thursday quelled the idea that Reed may be golf's next big star. His talent is evident. His confidence is unshakable.
He's just the fifth player ever to win three tournaments before turning 24. The others: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia. He wants to be the first rookie participant to win here since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.
And his personality – bold, direct, honest, confident – is everything the sport is looking for, because he can cause many to love him and many to hate him, and he seems quite pleased with not giving a whit about either side. Sometimes being polite can be overrated.
The big gallery and the fans cheering for him? Reed said he didn't even notice.
"When I'm out there, I'm zoned in."
Did playing in this famed tournament feel any different, even after he declared he'd "treat it like just another event."
"I felt level-headed," he said.
He's got a little of pro wrestler in him, which isn't to say this is an act. It is, by all accounts, exactly who he is. He just isn't interested in trying to be what anyone else wants him to be, or to say the things other people say, or to try to pretend about any subject.
The fans and media were focused on the score or the result or what looked like the mistakes. Reed was only willing to discuss what he believes was the issue.
He hit the ball like crap, no matter what the scoreboard said.
If he stops hitting the ball like crap, he still thinks he can win.
The next three rounds will determine that, but one round into his major championship career, and this guy was in many ways everything golf could use.
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