A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece comparing Patrick Reed to a professional wrestling heel. The heel – the villain in the testosterone fuelled theatrical circus – feeds off the negative energy of the crowd. The more vitriol thrown their direction, the more effective their performance.
And this week, Reed found himself in the firing line once again. First through compatriot Brooks Koepka speaking on SiriusXm and then with former CBS on-site commentator, Peter Kostis on the No Laying Up podcast. In case you aren’t familiar with Kostis, he worked for CBS for 30 years in a similar role to that which Wayne Riley or Andrew Coltart perform for Sky Sports, and Kostis claimed that on four occasions, he had witnessed Reed improving his lie during tournament play.
With his back to the wall, Reed replied in the most Patrick Reed fashion imaginable. He went out and beat an incredibly strong field that included two players duelling it out for the world number one ranking.
Love him or hate him – and there’s a queue to join the latter group – you can’t help but be impressed by the sheer bloody-mindedness of the former Masters champion.
I’m sometimes reminded of the famous Millwall Football Club chant when I watch Reed in action; “No one likes us, no one likes us, no one likes us, we don’t care.” And he doesn’t care, at least not on the surface anyway.
The same competitive streak that pushes Reed to bend – if not completely break – the rules, is the same competitive streak that saw him chase down Bryson DeChambeau on the back-nine in Mexico when Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, and Jon Rahm all faltered.
The same competitive streak that saw him coldly stare down McIlroy in the final group of the 2018 Masters where it seemed the entire crowd was behind the Irishman, though Reed had become one of their own while attending and leading Augusta State University to back-to-back NCAA Division One titles.
The same competitive streak that saw him declare himself one of the world’s top five players after winning the WGC Mexico’s predecessor at Doral in 2014.
This win now pushes Reed up to third on the US Ryder Cup rankings and puts him in a very strong position to make his fourth consecutive Ryder Cup appearance through automatic selection. And automatically qualifying might be Reed’s only option as his suitability as a captain’s pick is very much in question after his post-event comments in Paris and his poor display at the Presidents Cup a few months ago.
Though his abilities as a functioning team member are now in question, his ability to perform in high-pressure singles competition most definitely isn’t. Among his eight PGA Tour wins – that’s three more than Rickie Fowler for comparison – are a major, two WGCs and two FedEx playoff events. In other words, they have come against world-class fields.
If Reed ever had any self-doubt, it’s long gone.
Also gone is the red shirt, black trousers combination that Reed traditionally wore on Sundays in homage to his childhood hero, Tiger Woods. Whether through Nike directives, through a directive from Woods himself, or simply through Reed outgrowing idolatry, the new Reed wears an all-black colour scheme on Sundays and it’s rather apt for the black sheep of the PGA Tour.
In a WhatsApp group, and sticking with my wrestling theme, I likened his new look to WWE legend The Undertaker, but a friend replied that “The Bunker-raker would be a better name for that pr***.”
You see, my friend doesn’t like Reed. No one likes him.
But he doesn’t care.