You may have noticed that the new Masters champion, Patrick Reed, doesn’t appear to be universally loved, to put it delicately.
If the stocky American seems like the kind of person who might rub you up the wrong way, your perception may be on the money.
When it comes to the world of professional golf, one observer close to the scene said, “Really, he has few good friends out here, but he’s not worried about being the most popular guy.” That observer? His wife, Justine, whose view was backed up by Reed (“She basically nailed it.”).
When he collected the green jacket, this was one of the first questions he faced: “Patrick, it doesn’t take much to do a quick Twitter search to find a lot of people rooting against you. Why do you think that is? Why are there fans that don’t embrace you?”
Reed’s answer was anodyne enough: “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.”
Why don’t people like Reed?
Some golf fans may remember him from his Ryder Cup exploits — at Gleneagles in 2014 he ‘shushed’ the crowd by putting his finger to his lips; the same year he described himself as one of the top five golfers in the world, though he had never played in a major.
Back then, he was also caught on microphone saying “Nice fucking three-putt, you fucking faggot” at Shanghai — to himself, having missed a putt (he later apologised).
Reed’s confrontational approach goes back a lot further than that, though. As a talented teenager his family got worried when he began to introduce himself to strangers by saying, “I’m Patrick Reed, and I’ll kick the shit out of you at golf any time you want.”
He spent a year at the University of Georgia and left in mysterious circumstances.
Shane Ryan, the author of Slaying the Tiger: A Year Inside the Ropes on the New PGA Tour, reported that Reed’s then-teammates at the university were convinced he had cheated in a qualifying round before a tournament and suspected strongly that he had stolen items from a college locker room.
Ryan added that even now on the Tour that some players joke about the latter incident, saying “Hide your things,” they tell each other. “Patrick’s here.”
Reed is also estranged from his mother or father, neither of whom attended his wedding in December 2012.
Speaking recently, his father Bill said: “As a parent, no matter how much pain you’re going through, our philosophy on it is we’re never going to throw one of our own children under the bus.
“No matter how much our children hurt us, I’m not going to hang them out to dry in a national setting.”
Mind you, the day Reed got married, Bill tweeted: “You can love someone with all your heart but there is no promise they are going to love you back. The ladies in my life are best!”
Unfortunately, Justine — Reed’s wife — didn’t reciprocate. She reportedly had her mother- and father-in-law escorted off the course when they attended the US Open four years ago, while in 2016, Reed’s sister described him as a “selfish, horrible stranger” on Facebook.
She wrote: “I have sat back and watched the numerous and disgusting accusation his wife, mother-in-law and everyone now associated as his family have made. Patrick is not the same person he used to be.
"This is not a brother anymore, but a selfish, horrible stranger and it’s heartbreaking… It is devastating seeing my parents hurt and suffer from what is being posted about them.”
For all that there is no denying Reed’s drive. At the age of 10, he noticed professional golfers wear long trousers, not shorts, so he stopped wearing shorts in the juvenile tournaments he participated in.
Reed was the only kid playing in khakis in searing heat during those tournaments but never wavered in his focus.
The result? A green jacket on Sunday.
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