Saturday, December 06, 2014



WINDERMERE, Florida – As a junior, Patrick Reed used to always play against the older kids, so he said on many occasions he was “beat like a drum” on the golf course. Nonetheless, he made sure he never was intimidated by anyone.
“When I was 12,” he said, “I was playing against 14- and 15-year-olds. I learned to play with guys who hit if farther than me, who’d been around the game and who just played better. So I felt that whenever I came out here and started playing, it just helped me out and allowed me to just focus on me.”
That certainly seemed true on Friday at Isleworth in the second round of the Hero World Challenge, when Reed was paired for the first time opposite Tiger Woods, he of the 79 PGA Tour victories and 14 majors. 
Even with a double bogey at his final hole (another two-chip job), Woods would shoot 2-under 70, a seven-shot improvement over his opening round. But it had to feel like 85 in contrast to that other guy in the group sporting the Woodsian red-and-black ensemble; Reed blistered the place in 9-under 63 for eight-under136, the same tally as Justin Rose who had a 64. 
Rose had a tumultuous front nine, with six birdies, one bogey and a double bogey.  It added up to a 3-under 33, and the Englishman added five more birdies on the back nine to cap an 8-under 64, one that included two separate stretches of four straight birdies
Henrik Stenson was the leader in clubhouse with a 68 for nine-under-par 135 but Jordan Spieth played the 18th early Saturday morning to complete his round with a par figure and to remain at 11-under for the tournament - two ahead of Stenson.
Funny, but one of the people most responsible for Reed’s steely confidence and unbending swagger is the very guy who was walking alongside him on Friday. One Tiger Woods. “I feel like now, because of how mentally strong he (Woods) was and us growing up and watching that, and how he played, I feel like a lot of guys have the same mentality. Don’t really care who they’re playing with, just go out and play golf and play how they know how to play.”
Added Reed, “You could see it just looking in his eyes back in ’99, 2000, he was just dominating. If looks could kill you, he could literally kill you. And it’s not because he’s a bad guy or anything. He’s so focused and determined to play well. He obviously gets it. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Reed said that as a youngster in Texas, he used to try to emulate Woods’ mental toughness and copy his mental strength. Curious: Just how does one copy mental strength, Reed was asked.
“You have to be stubborn,” he answered, “focus on what you’re doing.”
A red shirt and black slacks has been Woods’ uniform of choice for years on Sundays, when he has lifted trophies around the world. Reed wears it on Sunday, too, and last year, when he didn’t start well on Thursday (the case this week, as he shot 73), he wore red and black on Friday as well.
Jordan Spieth, who leads the Hero World Challenge and was Reed’s partner for three matches in this year’s Ryder Cup, saw Reed walking to the first tee in the red and black and said he expected nothing else.
“I told Michael (Greller, his caddie), ‘Of course Patrick is wearing red and black today.' ”
But he surely backed up his brash look with his strong play. He shot 7-under 29 on his first nine and had visions of 59 until he hit a “thin-block” 6-iron that barely eluded water at the par-3 11th. After that, he said he’d just put one foot in front of the other, which didn’t go so well at the shortish 12th, where, for the second consecutive day, he had a short iron in his hand and ended up spinning a ball into water. Bogey. (“That hole owns me,” he said.) Fortunately, eight birdies and an eagle can go a long way toward offsetting that.
Reed came into this week a bit rusty, having not played since the HSBC Champions in Shanghai nearly a month ago. He has a new driver, new 61-degree wedge and new prototype Callaway golf ball in play this week. He didn’t know quite what to expect from his game, though he always expects to contend.
In China, where Reed tied for 22nd, his biggest concern wasn’t his golf game, but his wife Justine’s health. By the time the two returned to their hotel room after Saturday’s round, Reed said his wife’s left eye was so red and irritated that the two couldn’t even turn on a lamp. A seemingly innocuous eye irritation turned out to be a lacerated ulcer covering her entire cornea, something that could have been very serious had they not sought immediate medical help that night.
“It was scary,” he said.
That episode aside, 2014 has been an incredible year for Reed. He and Justine celebrated the birth of a first child in May (daughter Windsor Wells), he won twice (including a first WGC title at Doral), made the cut at two majors and rocketed up the Official World Golf Ranking (in 18 months, he’s jetted from No. 392 to 26th).
At the Ryder Cup in September, he was one of the few bright spots for Team USA, finishing 3-0-1.
 As some players competed in winter caps and waterproofs, Reed, red-cheeked, played in short sleeves, mischievously messed with the crowd, and displayed the type of killer attitude that America needs to see more frequently if it is to bring the cup back home.
“Best year I’ve had in my life so far,” Reed said. “I’ve done a lot of great things. Everything is just falling into place.”
Two good rounds this weekend at Isleworth, and a very good year could get even better.
Par 144 (2x72)

133 Jordan Spieth (USA) 66 67
135 Henrik Stenson (Sweden) 67 68
136 Patrick Reed (USA) 73 63, Justin Rose (England) 72 64
137 Bubba Watson (USA) 69 68, Jimmy Walker (USA) 68 69, Rickie Fowler (USA) 67 70

141 Graeme McDowell (N Ireland) 68 73 (T14)
147 Tiger Woods (USA) 77 70 (last of 18). 




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