Patrick Reed’s top-5 comments
I don’t know Patrick Reed.
He could be a great guy or he could be a jackass and frankly, I have no way of knowing which one it is. In the aftermath of his win at Doral, where he picked up his third PGA Tour victory in the last 18 months, Reed has been skewered by many over his comments to Golf Channel’s Steve Sands about how good he is and where he sees himself in today’s current golf landscape. Before we get to that though, we have to go back to Sunday’s broadcast of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, where Reed was shown giving a pre-taped interview. He suggested that based on what he’s done to this point in his career, both as an amateur and as a professional, that he thinks he’s one of the top-5 players in the world. After winning at Doral, where he went wire-to-wire, Sands asked Reed to clarify what he had told NBC earlier in the day. The transcript, as provided by the guys at No Laying Up, is as follows:
Over the last 18 hours, he’s been called cocky, confident, arrogant and many other things by people inside and outside the golf industry, and I get all of it. Players in any sport, but golf in particular, don’t usually come out and say things like this. The question is, is it fair to blast Reed like this? Let’s take a look at it from three distinctly different perspectives.
The Fan Perspective
Admittedly, this is where most of the vitriol towards Reed seemed to come from, at least from what I saw on Twitter. As fans, we’ve all grown up with the belief that golf is the ultimate gentleman’s game, and for the most part, this seems to ring true even in 2014. The thought that Reed, a 23-year old who despite having two PGA Tour wins until yesterday was still relatively unknown, would dare place himself in the same category as Tiger Woods and other legends of the game is something that many people just couldn’t stand, but I’m not quite sure that he actually did that. The quotes read that way, but I think that if you asked him right now if he really thought that he belonged in the same category as players like Tiger and who knows who else, I’m sure he would have a slightly different tone.
As a fan though, I suppose it depends on your viewpoint. Do you want tons of clichés from players like Tiger and Matt Kuchar, or would it be nice if every once and a while someone not named Ian Poulter told you what was really on his mind?
The Media Perspective
First off, I have no issue with Sands asking Reed to clarify his remark, but it did kinda put the guy in an awkward position. If he had gone the other way and tried to clarify or backtrack, he’d probably be getting killed for doing that too, not to mention that he would be saying something that he didn’t obviously believe to be true. Much like the fans though, the media criticism of Reed is interesting because for the first time in a long time, they were given quotes of real substance from a player who just won one of the biggest tournaments of the year.
This wasn’t a quote about “the process” or wanting to “just get better each and every week”. Tiger gets slammed for not being open enough with the media, and guys like Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar are the prototypical “boring golfer” when giving interviews. I know it’s cliché to say it, but you really can’t ask for guys to be more honest and then rip them when they do. This is one of the reasons why Tiger doesn’t open up to anyone. I’m fully of the opinion that golf would be much better if more guys would be more like Ian Poulter, or say and do what Patrick Reed did yesterday.
The Player Perspective
This is the toughest one to figure out, but I can tell you this: there are probably plenty of players who aren’t overly fond of Patrick Reed this morning based on what he said yesterday. How much this matters is really up to Reed. There have been many players over the years who have been very successful being universally liked and disliked, and there’s nothing that says that you have to be one or the other. Vijay Singh is one of the best players of all-time, and you can count the number of people who like the guy on one hand. Hell, you might not even need the whole hand. Phil Mickelson’s reputation has improved significantly over the last few years, but earlier in his career, the FIGJAM nickname followed him around to every event he played in, and he seemed to do just fine. Putting himself inside the top-5 players in the world, even if he only meant it in a figurative sense, without playing in a major championship to date is something that many players are going to look at and say is complete nonsense, and they’re probably right.
At the opposite end of things, I’m sure there are players out there who have no issue whatsoever with what Reed said, and you can likely put part of it on being in the moment as well. Winning a PGA Tour event, especially one of that quality against that kind of field, is something to be proud of and I’m sure he was fired up after the tournament and was pretty high on himself. Would he say those things this morning given some time to think about it? It’s difficult to say.
For me, it’s a whole bunch of nothing and wasted words and energy on the topic, myself included. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I’m sure that there’s going to be no shortage of them coming out in the next few days. However, there are two things that I think Reed is going to have to deal with as it relates to this.
The first is the reaction from the players that he sees on the range and in the clubhouse this week. With the win on Sunday, he joined Tiger, Phil, Rory and Sergio as the only players at this age to have three PGA Tour wins, which is very heady company, but I can’t imagine that the players, especially veterans like Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker are overly thrilled with him at this point.
The second thing is how he deals with his first bit of failure, which as we know with golf, could come at the next event that he tees it up in. If he misses the cut in say, three of his next four starts, and doesn’t get a win for the next little while, he’s going to hear it from everyone. The players, fans and media will probably never let him forget what he said yesterday, so he’s going to need to deal with it in the best way possible. Golf has always been the ultimate mental game, and how he deals with this could prove how good he really is.
At the very least, it’s going to be interesting to watch, which isn’t something we can say all the time about this game that we all love.