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Patrick Reed is one of the best at putting on the blinders and shooting the number he needs to qualify for a tournament, to win a major or to knock off an opponent in match play in a hostile environment during international competition.
On the eve of the Mexico Open at Vidanta, Reed gave some insight into how he’s dealt with some of his most pressure-packed moments of his career. His comments were triggered by World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler observing last week that playing in Q-School was more difficult than the final round of the Masters. Reed, who had no status when he first turned pro and became the king of the Mondays before winning the Masters in 2018 for his first and only major (so far), said he could relate.
“It was weird, when I was at Augusta, that Sunday when I woke up there was just – I felt so calm. It was almost weird feeling how calm I felt. I felt normal, felt just kind of at peace,” he explained. “Once I walked onto the first tee, that’s when it hit me. The nerves hit me throughout the first hole. Once I got done with the first hole and I hit the fairway on 2, at that point on, I felt normal, I felt ready. It was weird. I mean, it was almost as if I had that feeling inside of, hey, it’s your time, go ahead and just play your normal game and it will happen.
Reed continued: “For Q-School, I mean, I’m right there with him. After my first two days I was on the bottom of the board. I shot 18 under my last four in order to make it on the number … At the time, my wife was on the bag. Well, soon-to-be wife was on the bag and we were getting married I think the following week, so there was a lot of pressure on that week, just that week to go out and play the golf we were supposed to play. Especially how well we did on the Mondays and came close getting our card that way that we felt like, you know, we had to go out and actually capitalize the year off by getting your card and making it.”
Reed said that an important lesson he learned is that a golf tournament is a marathon, not a sprint.
“The sprints are the Monday qualifiers, 18 holes you’ve got to go out and perform. But when you have a full tournament, you’re going to have your ups and downs throughout the round and you just have to make sure that on the downs, they don’t get you out of it mentally,” he said. “Physically, guys are going to be able to bounce back and hit some quality golf shots and be able to turn it around, but going through something like that in Q-School allowed me to, one, realize, all right, you got beat up for those two rounds, but you’ve got four more. And also it taught me when I need to go out and play golf and shoot numbers, I’m able to do that.”
How Reed became comfortable in uncomfortable situations stems from trying to practice for just such circumstances so he can feel as if he’s been there, done that.
“That’s basically the biggest thing for me,” he said. “You put the ball in divots, you put it on bad lies, you put yourself behind trees in practice to learn how to deal with those as well as, all right, also not just to hit a golf shot, but to see OK, where’s the best leave, make sure you’re thinking correctly because thinking’s 60 percent of the battle. All of us have the talent to be able to pull off a golf shot, but when you’re not swinging it well, when you’re in a bad spot, am I thinking correctly to put myself in the best spot so as to minimize the damage.”
With nine Tour titles to his credit, Reed, 31, has qualified for the season-ending Tour Championship, which is reserved for the top 30 on the FedEx Cup points list, nine consecutive years. It’s quite a testament to his ability to play some of his best golf in the biggest moments.