The Villain: Patrick Reed

(Hello—a quick note up top to explain the presence of this story on Tobacco Road Blues, of all places. I’ve been working on a golf book for the past year and a half—Slaying the Tiger: A Year Inside the Ropes on the New PGA Tour is scheduled to hit stores this May, and can be pre-ordered now—and after finishing the first draft of the manuscript in December, I became acquainted with a strange phenomenon: When you finish a book, you have to wait months before it’s published. Which is fine, unless you’ve done any investigative reporting, in which case you have to sit on your hands anxiously and pray that nobody re-creates your legwork and publishes the results in a more flexible medium before the book hits. In the case of my work on Patrick Reed, those prayers went unanswered, which is no surprise, given his notoriety and his success. As it happens, a big story on Reed is coming out in a major outlet soon, and since it proved impossible to publish anywhere else on such short notice, I’m showcasing it here before that story hits. This is not an official book excerpt. Instead, think of it as a sample of my work from the past year—a few vignettes on a common theme. It’s a long read, but it might be interesting. —Shane Ryan)



Q: Do you think the media’s making you out to be a villain?

A: Yeah. For sure.


Patrick Reed: Twenty-four years old, built like Babe Ruth—short, heavy, barrel-chested, with a build that makes you think “stocky” and “powerful” rather than “fat”—quick to anger even by pro golf standards, and a born winner.

Those are the descriptions that come to mind when you study Reed’s résumé and watch him on the course. With his win earlier this month at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, he became just the fourth player in the last two decades to win four times on the PGA Tour before his 25th birthday. The other three are Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and Sergio Garcia—names that demonstrate the lofty company he keeps.

With Reed, though, success is never simple. There has always been something a little off-key brewing beneath the surface of his story—a swirl of rumors dating back to his college days, when he lasted a year at Georgia before transferring to Augusta State and winning two national championships, the second of them against the school that had kicked him out. There’s much to be said about his professional life, and that story is ongoing. This is a story about his past—the triumphs and the stumbles.


The more Reed won on Tour, the more inevitable it became that his complicated history would return to haunt him. Finally, after the biggest win of his career at the Cadillac Championship last March, ESPN’s Ian O’Connor dragged some of the skeletons from the closet in a Masters-week story called “Patrick Reed’s Turbulent Rise.” O’Connor’s research, spanning courthouses and coaches and parents and former college and high school teammates, lifted the veil, at least slightly, on Reed’s youth. The story made it clear that his peers had never really liked him, especially at the college level. A new picture of Reed emerged: Brash, arrogant, abrasive, unapologetic, winner. He turned potential friends against him, and he never seemed to care about the consequences—at least not enough to change.

In terms of the nitty-gritty details, though, O’Connor couldn’t quite pierce the wall of silence put up by the very same people who despised Reed. A citation in an Athens courthouse revealed that Reed had been arrested for intoxication his freshman season, but if that was the standard for a villain, half of the country would be doomed (as O’Connor admitted). The reason why Georgia coach Chris Haack had kicked Reed off the team remained a mystery, as did the ensuing troubles at Augusta State, which head coach Josh Gregory and Reed’s former teammates kept close to the vest.

“It’s certainly no secret to us, but I’m not going to be the first one to blab about it,” Georgia alum Brian Harman told me, summing up the prevailing philosophy among nearly everyone inside the loop.

Whatever the reason for the silence, it was clear that the ESPN story had only struck a glancing blow—the truth went far deeper than a mere drunken night, and the real story was left unresolved. As another media member put it to me, “that was as close as anyone ever got, and they didn’t get that close.”


From the start of my travels in a year on Tour, I found Reed to be one of the most compelling young golfers around, and I began trying to arrange an interview with him as early as January. He proved an elusive figure, even with a cooperative agent, but I finally sat down with him and Justine—his wife and former caddie, who had just given birth to their first child—at the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia in early July. I held off on his college years as long as I could, but eventually I broached the topic, which led to an awkward exchange:

Me: Did you read Ian O’Connor’s article?

Patrick: No.

Me: I mean, a lot of people want to know-

Patrick: I talked to him about it.

Me: You did talk to him?

Patrick: I think so, yeah.

Justine: Yeah, I read it.

Patrick: Yeah. Yeah no, it was at…

Justine: You read it.

Patrick: We were at Augusta, huh? He talked to me before he wrote it.

Me: But you didn’t read it?

Justine: I think he read it.

Patrick: I think so, I don’t know. There’s so many articles…it’s so hard…

Justine: There’s so many stories. But I do recall that story.

From Reed’s body language after I said O’Connor’s name, I got the sense that he knew exactly what I was talking about. I believe that he lied, and I don’t say that with any judgment—I learned early on that lying is a critical part of the process with PGA Tour players and their representatives, and it serves a purpose. It’s not incumbent upon them to provide unfavorable information about themselves, either from their past or their Tour lives, and in fact being honest can, at times, have a detrimental effect. There was no reason for Reed to do my work for me.

But I was curious to see his reaction to the story, and the fact that he had feigned ignorance until his wife essentially called him out was telling—it had hit home, and it was something he worried about. Before moving on, I brought up the idea that when you really looked at the story, there was nothing too damning beyond the kind of alcohol infraction experienced by hordes of college students every year—including myself.

Me: But see, the interesting thing for me was…I mean, I’m someone who got arrested in college for shooting off a fire extinguisher. It feels like everyone I know does, so it felt like whatever he wrote wasn’t everything. It was like, ‘oh, that’s it?”

Justine: It was everything.

Patrick: No, the article he wrote was everything. I mean, it’s…

Justine: There’s nothing else out there.

Those responses came quickly, and reminded me of an old trope: The cop standing in front of a grisly car wreck, saying, “move along, nothing to see here!” Again, they said what they had to say. And again, they were lying.


From the time he was very young, Reed brought an unusual focus to the sport, right down to the smallest details. When he was ten, he stopped wearing shorts on the golf course, both in competitive tournaments and range rounds, because he saw that the pros had to wear pants. In the brutal heat of midsummer, he’d be the only kid at a tournament in khakis, and even when he came close to passing out, he’d never succumb.

Two of Patrick’s dominant personality traits emerged early, and both worried his parents, Bill and Jeannette. The first was his incredible capacity for rage. He expected so much of himself that when he went into a slump, he’d transform into a sullen powder keg of frustration and anger, to the point that his parents wondered whether or not he was truly enjoying the sport. Reed always told them he was, but his emotional explosions painted a different picture.

The other problem was his outward shows of confidence, which crossed over into a cocky, arrogant tone too often for Bill’s liking. He knew his son’s success somewhat depended on this self-assurance, but when Patrick introduced himself to strangers by saying things like, “I’m Patrick Reed, and I’ll kick the shit out of you at golf any time you want,” Bill also knew he had a problem. The issue was that Patrick’s obsession was all-consuming—he had no other interests, and though it made him one of the best juniors in the country, it also meant that his self-worth was entirely wrapped up in the game. Combined with a natural arrogance and a snarly demeanor, he had a knack for bad first impressions.

But what was the solution? The difficulty, according to his parents, was that while they tried to keep him humble, everyone around them was telling Patrick how great he was. They were right, too—he was a natural—but the constant praise made it difficult to regulate his behavior outside the home. Still, their fears that he would burn out never came to pass, and they watched as other top-ranked junior golfers dropped out or peaked too early while Patrick surpassed them all.

Success followed success, and after a chance visit to Athens, GA on the way home from a summer tournament, Reed reversed a prior commitment to Texas and pledged his college years to Georgia. He won the Louisiana state championship as a junior, and because he already had enough credits to play Division-1 golf, Georgia coach Chris Haack encouraged him to come to school a year early. The class above Reed was full of unknown quantities, and Haack thought he might need Patrick sooner than expected.

As it turned out, those unknown quantities were Russell Henley, Harris English, and Hudson Swafford, all of whom panned out in a big way. It was too late for Reed to reverse course, though, and when he finally came to Georgia, he found himself as a cog in a stacked roster that included the three super sophomores and senior star Brian Harman.

Haack had a rule that any player who made the semifinals of the U.S. amateur in the summer wouldn’t have to qualify for the first college tournament in the fall, and when Reed advanced to the final weekend, losing to Danny Lee in the semis, he was exempt for the start of his college career. This, along with his penchant for boasting, somewhat isolated the 17-year-old Reed when he arrived on campus. It didn’t help that whenever he qualified for a tournament, he was knocking out a veteran, and Reed wasn’t the kind of kid who was equipped to handle the delicate situation with the requisite tact. If anything, it was reminiscent of another Georgia player who ran afoul of his teammates and coach in a year with an unusual amount of talent. Like Bubba Watson, Reed quickly drifted outside the Bulldogs’ tight inner circle.

When he explained to me what went wrong in his freshman season, Reed chalked it up to being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people in such a small area, leading him to seek out a more comfortable environment.

The truth isn’t quite so simple. The full story, from sources who prefer to remain anonymous, shines a light on a golfer who veered completely out of control in his one year at Georgia. Everything O’Connor said about his personality quirks was true—he alienated his teammates immediately with displays of arrogance, and he had an unapologetic way of practicing and playing apart from the team. If that were the only issue, though, he might have merely remained an irksome presence. It wasn’t, he didn’t, and the situation grew much worse.

During a qualifying round prior to a tournament, according to sources, Reed hit a ball far into the rough. When he approached the spot, he found another ball sitting closer to the fairway, and was preparing to hit it when several of his teammates confronted him. Reed pled ignorance, but the other Georgia players were convinced he had been caught red-handed trying to cheat. That same fall, several items went missing from the Georgia locker room, including a watch, a Scotty Cameron putter, and $400 cash. When Reed showed up the next day with a large wad of cash, sources say a teammate confronted him and asked how he’d come by the money. Reed said he’d played golf with a professor at the school and hustled him out of the cash. The player in question took this claim to the professor, who had no idea what he was talking about—it had been weeks since the man had played with Reed.

Again, no action was taken, but as far as his teammates were concerned, Reed was guilty of cheating and thieving. Even now, on Tour, a source told me that there’s a private joke among certain players when Reed enters a locker room: “Hide your things,” they tell each other. “Patrick’s here.”

In addition, the arrest for intoxication—when Reed was found drunk at 2:30 a.m. on campus—was only the first of two alcohol violations. The second came hot on the heels of the first, during the week of a Georgia football game. That day, Reed and a friend had loaded up on alcohol before leaving for the game. (To Bill and Jeannette, the drinking was a new side of Reed—he had never had much of a social life at all in high school, and though he had the odd girlfriend here and there, drinking was never part of his agenda. Their theory today is that Patrick was trying to fit in on a college campus where he felt desperately alone.) Later that night, near Atlanta, he was arrested again on a second alcohol charge.

This time, the Reeds hired a lawyer, and were able to keep word from reaching the team after a judge threw out the case. By February, though, Chris Haack found out, and he scheduled a meeting with Patrick. According to the sources, Reed came in for the meeting with his mother Jeannette, who was visiting. When Haack brought up the second arrest, Jeannette reacted with surprise:

“We thought no one knew,” she said.

At that point, sources say, Haack realized there had been a cover-up, and he couldn’t trust anything that came from Reed or anybody else in the family. Combined with the personal and ethical problems Patrick presented, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Haack began the process of severing ties between Reed and the golf team. Reed kept his access to all facilities for the rest of the academic year, along with academic tutoring, but in terms of Georgia golf, the relationship was over. It was understood that Reed would transfer for his sophomore season.


The choice came down to Florida, Wake Forest and Augusta State, and considering that his parents now lived in Augusta, he didn’t brood over the decision for long. Head coach Josh Gregory sold him on the idea that he’d already tried the big schools, and it was time to see how he’d function in a smaller environment. Reed could see the wisdom in that, so he chose to spend the next two years at Augusta State, living at home the second year.

Gregory’s program was an interesting anomaly in the sport—golf was the school’s only Division 1 program, and the college itself had none of the allure of the surrounding SEC and ACC schools, with their huge student populations, top level football programs, sprawling campuses, and the student-centric milieu that included vibrant small cities, Greek life, and—since we’re talking about teenage males—beautiful young women everywhere. When Reed was in high school, Gregory didn’t even bother recruiting him; as he told me, “Augusta State doesn’t get the Patrick Reeds of the world.”

Recruiting against schools like Georgia and Georgia Tech was a pipe dream—no student would visit both places and come away with an urgent desire to make Augusta his college home. Instead, Gregory would look for mid-level talents in the southeast that had some of the competitive drive he coveted—guys he could mold into great players. He also recruited internationally, where the reputation of his competitors didn’t carry quite as much weight. And, when fate dealt him a lucky hand, he’d take the odd cast-off; the stud like Reed who, for whatever reason, couldn’t cut it at his original school.

Gregory had been a lifelong underdog himself, a college golfer under Hank Haney at SMU who never won a tournament, and he knew almost from the minute he turned pro that he lacked the mental game to succeed. When he looked around at his friends who were succeeding at the highest levels, he saw players who believed they were twice as good as they actually were. Gregory was the opposite—he never thought he was half as good as he really was—and the sport made him miserable. But the analytical brain that spoiled his playing career made him an ideal coach. He knew exactly who to look for, and he became an expert not only at finding diamonds in the rough, but training them to take down the high-profile players in whose shadow they had spent their entire lives.

Reed, though, represented a new challenge entirely. Gregory understood that he needed a player of Reed’s caliber to put a very good Augusta State team over the top, and he also knew that Reed wasn’t squeaky-clean. But he had no idea how bad things would get, and how fast. Once again, Reed made a terrible first impression, angering his teammates and making life difficult for his coach. He talked too much about himself, refused to listen to advice, and came off as someone with deep insecurities who was trying to project an infallible image.

(Gregory laughed at the fact that despite all the troubles, if you put Reed in a room full of adults, he’d be totally at ease and totally charming. I found the same to be true—the angry tyrant I had watched on the course was never in evidence in a one-on-one setting. I enjoyed my time in West Virginia with him and Justine more than most of my interviews with Tour players, and despite the moments when his account departed from the truth, I thought of him as a good storyteller with more personal charisma than I’d expected.)

When I asked Gregory what form Reed’s behavior took, he described a player who was so intent on proving that he was the best golfer—motivated by an intense fear of failure—that he couldn’t turn it off and have normal social interactions with his teammates. Even though adults liked him, he had a one-track mind around people his own age, and his relationships with golfers became antagonistic and tense. He would openly tell his teammates that he was better than they were, that he was going to beat them, and etc. They didn’t enjoy having him around, and Reed could sense—and was hurt by—their dislike, which only exacerbated his need to prove his value on the golf course, and to identify completely with the idea of Patrick Reed the golfer. The self-defeating cycle perpetuated itself, driving an enormous wedge between Reed and the rest of the team.

On one memorable night—one of the few times he hung out with his teammates in a social setting—sources say he became so belligerent at one of his teammates that he earned a punch in the face. He also got suspended for the start of the season for reasons that remained shrouded in mystery for the longest time, kept secret by golf’s omerta.

The news trickled around the Georgia golf community, though, and the cause of the suspension—confirmed by multiple sources—didn’t surprise the teammates who knew him back in Athens: Cheating in a qualifying event.


The suspension cost him the first two tournaments of the season, and Gregory told him that unless he grew up, and grew up quickly, he’d never make it either in college or on the PGA Tour. Gregory also placed a phone call to Haack, angry at just how difficult his player had proven to be, and Reed’s teammates held several meetings that year deciding what to do about the black sheep. In addition, a source close to the scene told me that Reed would often have tense phone conversations with his father after events he didn’t win, and that these would often become accusatory and angry, devolving into intense shouting matches before Reed hung up. The exact nature of the relationship wasn’t well known, but the sense among the team was that Bill was unreasonably tough on his son.

It’s tempting now to paint a story of redemption—a path upward from the darkest hours. With Reed, though, there was never a seismic personality shift in college. In 2011, he stopped hanging out with his teammates off the golf course completely. He also stopped cheating, and he was slightly more cordial with his teammates, but when I asked multiple sources whether this meant they actually liked him, the response was unanimous: Hell no.


In fact, something odd began to take shape with those Augusta State teams. Where most coaches preach team chemistry, what developed between Reed and his teammates was the opposite. They so despised each other that the environment became abnormally competitive—particularly between Reed and Henrik Norlander, two alpha dogs who wanted to beat each other so badly that they played with a desperate intensity even in practice rounds. It’s not the textbook way to build a team, much less one that any coach would recommend, but for Augusta State, it created a hard edge among the players that served them well in NCAA match play. The idea of being intimidated by some unknown opponent was laughable—they had to deal with Patrick Reed every day.

Everyone I spoke with agreed on one thing—if it wasn’t for Josh Gregory’s guidance and belief in Reed, he would have gone off the rails and been out of NCAA golf within a matter of months. The fact that he showed any improvement, or at least kept himself out of trouble, was due entirely to the standard Gregory set, and the artful way he dealt with a player who didn’t respond well to authority.

Still, his teammates’ attitude never changed. Before the last round of his college career, in the national championship against Harris English, a group of Reed’s Augusta State teammates approached English—one of the most well-liked, easygoing players in the sport—with an emphatic message:

“We want to win the national title, but we hope you kick the shit out of Patrick Reed.”


The trouble for them was that nobody kicked the shit out of Patrick Reed, especially in match play. In a one-on-one situation, he could escape his head completely and focus on beating a single opponent. During his sophomore season, after riding out the suspension, Reed proved that he was a valuable addition to the team, quickly forming a strong 1-2 attack with Norlander.

In June, at the NCAA Championships at the Honors Course in Ooltewah, TN, the Jaguars shot well enough to secure the sixth position after the three stroke play rounds ended. A year earlier, the championship format had changed; where it used to be purely a stroke play event, now the top eight teams after the medal rounds would face off in a match play bracket. That meant Augusta State, the 6-seed, would face Georgia Tech, the 3-seed, with five players from each team squaring off against each other in a best-of-five contest.

Reed drew Chesson Hadley that day, the Yellow Jacket who would go on to become PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2014. Neither player ever established more than a one hole lead, but coming down the 18th hole, Reed, who had proven his match play chops at the U.S. amateur the summer before he came to Georgia, was 1-up. They needed his win, as Tech led 2-1 in matches completed. Hadley’s approach was mediocre, landing more than 30 feet from the pin, and Reed, sensing blood, put his 12 feet away. Barring a miracle, a two-putt would win. Incredibly, though, Hadley holed his long birdie attempt. The pressure was squarely on Reed, and he responded, sinking his own birdie and letting out a primal shout when it fell.

Henrik Norlander won the deciding match on the 18th hole, and Augusta State pulled off the upset to advance to the semifinals. There, they handled the Florida State Seminoles, with Reed winning again, and it was on to the championship, where they’d face their stiffest challenge yet in top-ranked Oklahoma State. The Cowboys featured future pros like Morgan Hoffmann, Kevin Tway, and Peter Uihlein—son of Wally Uihlein, CEO of the Acushnet Company and the man who runs Footjoy and Titleist, which makes him one of the most powerful people in golf.

Uihlein is as close as anyone comes to golf royalty, and Reed, with his combative nature and the giant chip on his shoulder, seemed to take a special pleasure in playing against him. They were drawn against one another, and after Uihlein took the first hole, Reed won the next three. That led to the seventh hole, where Uihlein conceded a short par putt to Reed, and Reed refused to return the favor when Uihlein’s birdie attempt rolled up next to the hole. Uihlein, annoyed, stood over his putt and missed. The annoyance turned to rage as he swatted the ball into the nearby water, and Reed, now 4-up, knew he’d won the mental game. He coasted from there, and the match ended 4&2 in Reed’s favor. Henrik Norlander and Mitch Krywulycz came through in their matches, and Augusta State’s motley crew of underdogs had its first national title.

Afterward, Reed approached Gregory with tears in his eyes and thanked him for sticking by his side. He knew how close he’d been to losing his second team in two years, and how it would have made him poison to every other college program. He had nearly sabotaged himself out of both a national title and the stable foundation he desperately needed before launching his professional career, and only Gregory’s forbearance had saved him.


The 2011 national championship was held in Karsten Creek, Oklahoma State’s home course, and when the hosts won their quarterfinal match and Augusta State—now the 7-seed—topped Georgia Tech for the second straight year, a revenge narrative took shape. The bitter Oklahoma State players had made comments the year before to the effect that the best team had lost, and they were eager for another crack at the upstarts who had left a sour taste in their mouths.

Thousands of Oklahoma State fans lined the course for the semifinal, and the way they’d erupt when one of their players hit an approach to 30 feet, yet stay completely silent if an Augusta State player stuck one inside five feet, reminded Josh Gregory of the Ryder Cup. The coach walked with Henrik Norlander during his match against Kevin Tway, and they were on their way to the 13th tee when he decided to stir the pot.

“Tough crowd out here today,” he said loudly, giving Norlander a fist bump.

“Shut up, asshole,” came the response from a voice in the crowd.

Gregory loved it, and the atmosphere was right up Reed’s alley as well. He was set to go last in the running order, and he knew the match could come down to him, which was just fine—he wanted the pressure on his shoulders, and hadn’t enjoyed a year earlier when he finished his match in the championship round too quickly, and had to watch his teammates fight to the end. When the draw came out, and he saw that he’d be facing Peter Uihlein for the second straight year, he thought, “even better.”

(After telling me how happy he was when he realized who his opponent would be, Reed was quick to add that Uihlein was his “good friend”— a typical verbal maneuver for Reed, and one which I might even have believed if he didn’t keep using it in reference to certain golfers, like Harris English, who I knew definitively were not his friend.

Later in the year, when I told Henrik Stenson that Reed had included him in the “good friends” list, he laughed, and responded with his unique brand of dry, Swedish humor.

“I wouldn’t say that we go way back,” he deadpanned. “I played one practice round with him at Wells Fargo a couple years ago. And…well, it’s nice if he thinks that everyone he knows a little bit is one of his friends. That’s obviously a way to look at it. But if I’m going to express myself politically, I guess he’s an interesting character.”

Later, when I asked why he kept to himself on the range, I got a truer version from Justine: “Really, he has few good friends out here, but he’s not worried about being the most popular guy.” I looked to Reed, who nodded. “She basically nailed it.”)

Uihlein was now the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, and had played in the Masters in April—a rare honor for a college student—but the accolades only seemed to stoke the flames of Reed’s competitive fire. Uihlein, from the start, never had a chance.

Reed birdied six of the first 11 holes, and as he walked up the 10th, Uihlein looked at him something like disbelief. “Every time I play you, it’s like I run into a buzzsaw,” he said. “You just cut me down.” Reed won the match by the gaudy score of 8&7—he had faced the top amateur in the world, and the player the Wall Street Journal had called “the next great champion” just two months earlier, and humiliated him on his home course.

Norlander won again, and in a dramatic match that went extra holes, Carter Newman—a senior, and the team’s fifth-best player—saved himself from disaster by holing lengthy putts on 17 and 18 before beating Sean Einhaus in extra holes and sending Augusta State to the championship round for the second straight year.

Waiting for them, on the other side of the bracket, were the Georgia Bulldogs.


Gregory worried that Reed would be too amped up for his match, considering the circumstances, and he tried to emphasize that focusing on the opponent wouldn’t help. It had limited effect—Reed wanted the win worse than he ever had before, and nothing Gregory could say would calm him down.

Reed’s teammates delivered their message of support to Harris English, and the match was on. This time, Reed fished his wish—Russell Henley beat Norlander, Hudson Swafford lost, and the teams split the other two matches, leaving Reed and English as the last men on the course. Their point would decide the national championship.

“If you were to go back in history and ask Harris if there’s one match that he wanted to win,” Chris Haack told me later, “that was the match. Not only did it mean winning the national championship, which was ultimately what we all wanted, but just a lot of the…oh, gosh, I don’t know, the way that things always transpired with Patrick…it just wasn’t a very…”

Here he trailed off, before concluding, “I want to take the high road here.”

Reed held a 1-up lead early, and though English squared the match before the turn, Reed won the 10th and 13th holes to go 2-up. He held the same lead heading into the 17th, and needed only a half to win the match. Neither player hit a great drive, but when English hit his approach into the water, the match was down to its dying embers. Reed made a mess of the hole, but still left himself with two putts from six feet to win. His first crawled up to bare inches away, the second was conceded, and just like that, Reed had finished off the greatest underdog act in college golf history. Josh Gregory and Augusta State had won back-to-back national championships, and they did it in style, beating two of the sport’s biggest juggernauts.

For Reed, it was the end of a short but brilliant career, and the cherry on top of a 6-0 match play record at the NCAA championships. He kept his emotions in check—deep down, he knew Haack wasn’t wrong to let him go, and as badly as he wanted to win, there was a bittersweet feeling knowing his college career was over.

To the Georgia players and coaches, though—and even to some of Reed’s teammates—the win represented the opposite of a fairy-tale ending. Reed and English had deserved different fates in their final match, they thought, and everything about it felt deeply unfair. One of O’Connor’s sources, in the ESPN story, called it “the death of karma.”


“I’m hoping one day he’ll come out and have the honesty to talk about his past. It would really be a great cleansing process for him, but I don’t know if he’ll ever do that. I wish he would, because unfortunately he’s going to get always get questions about his past. Always questions about what happened at Georgia, what happened at Augusta State, what happened with his parents. I wish he would get it off his chest at some point in life, because I think it would help him become a better person.”

—Josh Gregory

It’s hard to know whether a troubled athlete ever truly changes, and the ubiquity of high-paid experts dedicated to crafting their player’s image casts a cynical light on the concept of personal growth. Which changes are sincere, goes the unanswerable question, and which are mere PR window-dressing and stagecraft, designed to lure a gullible writer?

Even if he never changes, reasonable people can still see shades of gray, and forgiveness isn’t out of the question.

“He has a big heart,” said Bill Reed. “It’s hard for him to show it in certain circumstances, because he needs to be on guard. He’s so driven, and to him he thinks it’s a sign of weakness. And you have to understand too, he’s still only 24 years old, and he’s been in the adult world a lot sooner than children his age should be and need to be.”

Brian Harman put it more bluntly.

“You have to remember that he was 17 years old,” he said, of Reed’s freshman year at Georgia. “We all do a lot of stupid shit when we’re 17.”

Reed’s story since his last college match has been one of success—he got his first PGA Tour win by out-dueling Jordan Spieth at the Wyndham Championship in 2013, and then won twice more in 2014, prompting the infamous “top-5” comment that brought him his first real dose of public notoriety.

His temperament, on the other hand, hadn’t really evolved. Throughout the 2014 season, I watched Reed blow off reporters in anger after his bad rounds, including at the Congressional in June, where after doing his requisite two questions with tv—nobody says no to tv—he wouldn’t offer more than a terse “nope” when a Tour official asked him to meet with the writers. Later, though, starting at the British Open, he began to face the music. He obviously still hated the process, but he’d endure a question or two without storming off, like the rest of his fellow pros.

Did this represent real maturity? It’s always hard to know for certain, and as Reed himself told me in our interview, the media will never get to know the “real” him. He also believes the broader forces are trying to make him a villain, so the relationship is tainted from the beginning—both sides are mostly fine with assuming the worst about the other.

In any case, it’s safe to assume that Reed’s anger runs a few degrees hotter than the average golfer—in Shanghai, at the WGC event in November, he was caught on camera chastising himself with the kind of language that goes beyond the usual self-loathing. “Nice fucking three-putt, you fucking faggot,” he said. “Go fucking hang yourself.” (In a bizarre postscript to the fallout, he decided to seek “guidance” from Bubba Watson, of all people.)

Reed also became estranged from his family after graduating from Augusta State and leaving home in November 2011—an estrangement that has lasted to the present. Neither his mother or father were invited to his wedding in December 2012, and contextual clues indicate that the relationship worsened from there.

When the Augusta Chronicle, ignorant of the longstanding rift, ran a tame video interview with Bill, Jeannette, and Patrick’s younger sister Hannah after his win at the Wyndham Championship, sources told me that the Legacy Agency, which represented Reed at the time, requested that the video be taken down. The matter died when the Chronicle refused to capitulate, but the gesture shows how strained the relationship must be. In 2014, at several tournaments, independent sources told me that Justine hired at least one bodyguard to “protect” her from Bill and Jeannette.

For their part, the Reeds didn’t want to speak on the record about the divide—“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,” Bill said. “No matter how much our children hurt us, I’m not going to hang them out to dry in a national setting.”—but Bill is on Twitter, with a profile picture showing him and Patrick at a golf tournament, and a tweet from Dec. 2012 seems to make a pointed statement about his relationship with his son:

“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!”

(Note: After this piece was published, a national golf writer pointed out to me that the preceding tweet was written on Reed’s wedding day.)

His mother Jeannette also has a social media presence, and her Twitter feed is dense with vague messages that hint at a relationship gone sour, and alternate between bitterness, sadness, and the hope of reconciliation. The latest instance came in December, when she wrote, “One would imagine the pure joy of Christmas past would touch a person’s heart in some way #miracle #hope.”

“If a person does not know where they started from, they sure as heck do not know where they are going….,” she tweeted on April 30, not long after the 2014 Masters, and the oblique references go back to the start of her timeline in 2013, with messages like, “Sometimes you have to move on without certain people. If they are meant to be, they will catch up…..”

One message in particular seems to be a reference to Justine: “There are doers, givers & takers in the world. You do & give it your all out of love & support, the takers step in & take what is not theirs.”

The vagueness of the tweets clarified this month, when Bill Reed became angry that his son hadn’t been in touch for their daughter Hannah’s birthday.

“Very sad and heart breaking at #PatrickReed did not wish his little sister happy birthday God has a plan wish we could see it,” he wrote, and both Jeannette and Hannah responded in kind.

The family relations, though, are too complex to be untangled from a few words on social media. For now, it’s enough to say that Patrick Reed is fighting a battle on two fronts. On the golf course, he’s winning in style, and may be the toughest young American in a generation loaded with talent. Off the course, he’s been painted into a corner by a complicated past and the questionable choices of the present.

In a culture that loathes gray area, Reed has been typecast before his 25th birthday. He is golf’s remorseless villain, and stands as a rare exception to the old proverb—not everybody, it seems, loves a winner.



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140 Responses to The Villain: Patrick Reed

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  1. Adrian K says:

    Fascinating piece.

    1. Andy E says:

      Interesting that after reading this “entire lengthy article” about anger and the inability to communicate well with ones peers, all you could offer was more of the same?

      It was a fascinating piece and I believe most people would prefer to be at a party with Darren Clark than Patrick Reed.

    2. docrambo says:

      Really fascinating; ” from sources who prefer to remain anonymous,” is a big red flag when dealing with character assassination articles like this. It would be like someone writing: ” Anonymous sources would neither confirm nor deny that Shane Ryan was a convicted sex offender whose object of fantasy was raping professional golfers. Another source said that you just can’t trust anything coming out of an Irishman’s mouth.” Garbage journalism at it’s best. What the hell is it doing on this site? Duke or UNC graduate? Need some work on pronouns–must have failed Freshman English.

      1. William Vanderbilt says:

        There is plenty of “garbage” from non-anonymous sources that only goes to validating the anonymous. You can’t select 1 anonymous comment in a slew of known sources to discount the truthfulness of the article.

  2. Johan Llenas says:

    Can’t say that I’m really surprised, great read. More to come for sure.

  3. Michael B. says:

    Terrific piece of writing. Enjoyed it. Will be looking for your book.

  4. Jake says:

    Good piece. Really fascinating stuff. Pulling for Patrick and hope he gets everything together.

  5. Jason Drucker says:

    This is one of the best golf articles I have read in a long time. It is nice to know that not all these golfers are perfect. I finally understand Patrick from the inside.

  6. Edgar T says:

    Excellent work, Shane.
    Hope to see you inside the ropes against at TPC.

  7. Wow. Fantastic article!

  8. Nick says:

    Excellent piece that puts his temperament in something of a perspective. I always wondered why his wife was taking the bag.
    I can’t imagine wanting to be his caddy for more than a few holes if his game isn’t “on”.

    1. abbydarren says:

      I thought the exact same thing Nick, LOL.

      1. Howard says:

        I am also wondering how Justine’s brother is handling carrying the bag for him?

    2. William Vanderbilt says:

      I guarantee if it were anyone else on that bag, every errant shot/mis-club/mis-read would come with a fierce scolding like they’re a 7 yr old. Her brother probably gets a pass too because of her. She sounds as much like a bully as he does.

  9. Bitter old Crank says:

    Journalism, meet sports. Sports, this is jounalism. Seems about time you two got reacquainted.

    GREAT piece. You just sold one book.

  10. Anthony says:

    For some reason I’m reminded in more than one aspect of stories about a young Barry Bonds.

    1. Spattman says:

      Or Vijay Singh…

  11. 19th hole says:

    Phil Mickelson

  12. Dave says:

    This nice Canadian man enjoyed this piece. Great writing.

  13. Tron Carter says:

    Slaying the Tiger? Sheeeeeeyit, in the words of Brandel Chamblee you just slayed the dragon with this article. Can’t wait for the book to come out. Keep it up chief.

  14. Thumper Stubbs says:

    Outstanding piece. Will be buying the book.

  15. Gordon Pumpkinwhistle says:

    You mean to tell me that a world class golfer has a bad temperament? Well written article but I feel as though you kind of piled on. Often times the attitudes that irk people are the exact reasons that make those in professional sports so successful. Hate to see the accusations of cheating without proof. Look forward to the book though.

    1. Sean says:

      Accusations of cheating without proof? He was suspended 2 matches for it. Proof enough for me.

      1. Wally F says:

        Actually Sean – he was suspended for two matches for a reason that has never been made public. The fact that sources who refuse to put their name to their words say it was cheating is not proof.

        1. Rob says:

          Wally- it just doesn’t matter. Proof is what you need to DQ a player. Many times its one word against another and unfortunately you can’t police integrity. But Proof or no proof- those players who played with Reed everyday didn’t/don’t trust him. What I’ve learned over the years in golf is that once you’ve been labeled a cheater you can never shake it. I know what I think when I hear the names Vijay Singh and Mark O’Nearer…oops. There are a whole bunch of players from my junior/college/amateur golf careers that I immediately think “cheater” when I hear their names. (Some 30 years later). Will take a long time to mend the damage done to a reputation he doesn’t seem to care about. Fair or not – he made his bed.

        2. Joe says:

          Athens GA here… I personally know people who played with him at both UGA and Augusta State. Everything in this article regarding his cheating and stealing are 100% true.

  16. maxbcat says:

    Count me in as another person who will be buying Shane’s book when released. Excellent story and your note at he beginning, with the pressure of having your stories loan… I can only imagine your insides. Great work!

  17. Mike says:

    Great read. Didn’t like Reed prior to this, but must say I’m a fan now. Was he a holy terror in college? Absolutely. Did he cheat and steal back then? Probably. Is he still so cripplingly competitive that he sabotages his relationships with fellow competitors? Sure. But his pathology seems limited to that narrow scope now. Author himself admitted Reed was a joy to interview. And I feel bad for him that his family sees fit to troll for sympathy on social media. What does that accomplish?

    1. Grimm Loomis says:

      When you’re a parent who raises a child even half-decently…pays for that for 20-plus years – contributing to that child’s success in life – it’s hard to accept that a girlfriend or wife can step in so easily and gain affections. Without knowing the particulars of how Reed was raised, one shouldn’t automatically come down hard on the parents.

      1. John Shea says:

        Well no one knows the particulars about his parents doings either, this Sean Ryan has simply served as his parents mouthpiece. Funny because soon he’s going to really look like an ass when people find out the truth about Billistic. It’s petty to go on and on about things he did in school years back. Raving like a gossiping school girl. This is not how he is now, if anything he’s more mature than most young men his age are.

      2. The Bee says:

        I don’t think anyone turns out to be the mess/”villain” that Patrick Reed is made out to be without some problems in how he was raised. Yet to read this account, Reed’s parents claim to have done everything right, and there doesn’t seem to be serious questioning of the parents’ account by the author. It seems pretty unlikely that children who were raised half-decently and whose parents contributed to their success in life would be cut out of the picture for no good reason.

    2. edward g says:

      Troll for what…you have no idea what it is like to have a son who is or was a pro and was helped his whole career to then shut out his family. Walk a mile in the family’s shoes before running your mouth.

  18. Fiat Lux says:

    Good, interesting article that will make me pay more attention.

    Please study how to use objective pronouns in your writing, or get an editor that knows when to use “he and I” and “him and me” correctly.

    1. Rudygee11 says:

      Really Fiat Lux??? Get a clue and a life drip!!

      1. Jim says:

        He isn’t the only one to comment on that. Most people offered it as constructive criticism and he took it as such.

  19. Joe Campbell says:

    Excellent article revealing great insights into a very complex personality. As a former instructor at Augusta State during both of those national championship seasons and with golf team members as students, I was tangentially aware of some of the discontent. It was, however, kept under wraps for the most part. My only complaint here is a stylistic one: “… I finally sat down with he and Justine …” should have read “… with him and Justine,” and a similar line, “… I enjoyed my time in West Virginia with he and Justine …” also should have read “… with him and Justine.” Unfortunately, this misuse of the objective case seems to be pervasive even among writers who are otherwise outstanding.

    1. jas72 says:

      I should have read through all the comments before writing mine on the same topic. There are some golf announcers who do the same thing. For some odd reason they seem to think they are being grammatically correct, but it’s like fingernails on a blackboard to me every time I hear it. I feel your pain, Mr. Joe Campbell.

  20. Pete says:

    Go Patrick Reed!! Don’t short change yourself, you’re in Top 2!!! My favorite golfer of All Time…

  21. dennis says:

    An ” author” and a “trained psychologist “who would like to sell books before the competition scoops his story. To paraphrase Harry Truman ” sounds like bullcrap to me”. I believe hacks need to villainize in order to get an audience for their work more than their subjects need anybody else’s approval. Turgid drivel at best.

  22. J.R. Clark says:

    I am an alumnus of Augusta State University and I thank Josh Gregory, Patrick Reed, and the Jaguar golf team for their unbelievable accomplishment!

  23. Todd says:

    Garbage journalism! How about some actual quotes?

  24. Before the internet and in the glory days of the newspaper, there was a saying in America, “Never get in a fight with a guy that buys ink by the barrel.” In today’s world that would be the author of this article. However, as I friend of Patrick Reed through his adolescence and now, Patrick has always been just who is, “A driven young adult – with a bit of a colorful past. Good for him! Your personal opinion and slant on Patrick’s mistakes in his youth are nothing more than a one-sided attempt to sell books without regard to whom it hurts. I guess copy doesn’t sell without a villain…does it? If you had spent more time with Patrick you would have written more about who Patrick is becoming – a devoted young adult to his sport and an individual that loves those around him – unless of course you make the mistake of challenging him. Patrick is a gladiator in a game meant for men with big balls…not for boys with half a heart and unequiped for the pressures of competitive golf. Patrick’s life story has just started in golf and you would be wise as a writer to practice writing more objectively and responsibly and let the man or writer in this case without sin throw the first stone!

  25. Tony says:

    How sad that nowadays parents use Twitter to air grievances about their child

    1. Grimm Loomis says:

      Not sure if you’re a parent, but you’d have to be one to truly understand. Most kids cause a little heartaches for their parents, and never fully understand until their own kids start acting the same way. But in some cases, a child never fully understands how difficult, expensive and unrewarding being a parent can be. Without knowing Reed’s parents, we can’t guess what causes the estrangement, but often-times with other families, this can be overcome. It took me a lot of emotional growth, and becoming a parent myself to understand what the hell my parents were trying to do with me.

      1. John Shea says:

        I’m sure it was very expensive but I can bet Patrick was still a good earner then for his Parents on the other hand too, I wonder what happened?

      2. ML says:

        Still doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to go trolling for pity literally in front of the whole world. (and yes, I’m a parent)

  26. Greg says:

    This was a pleasure to read and I will be buying the book. Patrick is my favorite player to watch and support even back to his college days. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with being an asshole in your sport- look at his phenomenal accomplishments thus far at such a young age. I really hope Americans stand behind Patrick in the coming years as he seems to be our best hope in the Ryder Cup.

    1. Birdeez says:

      wait… as long as you accomplish a lot in your sport or profession that gives you a right to be dishonest and lack decency? are you serious? you’re basically saying being successful gives you the right to be a miserable human being. your priorities suck

  27. Tmore3 says:

    My wife, a few friends and I went to the Ryder Cup in Scotland. We were watching Patrick hit balls on the range. Afterward, he walked over to the USA fans and started signing. Visited with everybody. Very cordial, but fired up. Told us we needed to cheer on the team. Coach Watson’s biggest mistake was sitting him. He will get better at handling the media, he is just young. Really nice guy. Not perfect, but who is?

    1. Birdeez says:

      i find it funny how people judge someones character or person through some random interaction that lasts mere seconds. as if signing a few autographs and smiling to the crowd is enough to make a judgment good or bad about someone. sadly this is how it works today. i’m sure the next pro who didn’t interact with the crowd will forever be labeled as a horrible person right?

      1. Wally F says:

        So instead we should judge Reed’s character based on rumor and innuendo…and Shane’s “gut feeling”.

  28. petakillspets says:

    Other than the accusations of cheating at golf,the man sounds a lot like Tiger.Like others have posted,it’s sad his family chooses to air their displeasure at him on social media.Maybe they can get on Jerry Springer.

    1. Grimm Loomis says:

      I feel for the parents, as it sounds like the estrangement happened relatively recently. That being said, I agree with you. To try and mend this on social media is a bit embarrassing and cringe-inducing. I can never understand any parents doing this publicly, but they’re certainly not the only ones doing it. As a parent, I can relate to how it must feel to have a child turn away from you, after you thought you did a good job raising them. But it would be better served for all if they worked that out privately.

      1. John Shea says:

        It was back in 2011, and I’m starting to think this above is Patrick’s parents as this name pops up every time someone disagrees with what they have done. Now that they have helped Sean Ryan sell some books I doubt there will be any reasoning with him ever again. The author was clearly quoting his parents time and again. These things happen, just like how Michael Jackson had to escape his father I guess so did Patrick.

        1. GEH says:

          Since you (and several others) can’t even get the author’s name right, you’ll pardon me if I ignore whatever it was you said.

  29. Brandon says:

    First, I think painting a picture of a human throughout their youthful years is an injustice and unfair. What’s the cognitive maturation point at which “you get it” and you quit acting like jack ass? Dynamic question that’s obviously different for everyone. Second, you can google a lengthy list of some of the best athletes that had similar character flaws that are beloved and spoken of with the utmost respect. Would this be a big deal to anyone if he didn’t play golf? Does this surprise anyone in the world we live in? Humility and humbleness is a dying breed…

  30. Brandon says:


  31. Connecticut golfer says:

    There are two sides to every story.

    But I do not understand why his parents would use social media to try and heal the wound.

    Let time pass.

  32. cornelius van dellen says:

    Patrick Reed is a complex young man but something about him I admire. Intensely competitive is a good thing, cheating and stealing are a very bad and I hope he has come clean in his soul about that.
    I hope he finds a way to be more social but not lose what makes him win, a no nonsense get the job done spirit. Give him a little more time to mature. He is a father now and a lot will become more clear for him.

  33. Appollo says:

    The cheating allegations were well known in the college community. Was always surprised how the story never leaked out. I think it shows class by coach Haack and his players for moving on and not commenting. Saw an interview last year with English and he definitely took the high road. Not a fan of Reed’s but his parents should be absolutely embarrassed of themselves and their behavior. Very sad.

  34. Paul Underwood says:

    Interesting that you chose the penial area for Patrick’s face on your book cover. You didn’t think that would go unnoticed did you?

    1. Sheppy says:

      Looks more like the belly button area to me. But hey, to each their own!

      Wishing Patrick a great 2015.

  35. Wm T Drury says:


  36. abbydarren says:

    Great article, this really takes you inside Reed.
    My question would be, we all want our athletes to be open and honest, answer questions when asked truthfully (opposite of the moron in Seattle Marshawn Lynch) but then when they do answer honestly and show real raw emotion, if we don’t like or agree with the answer we slam them for it. IMO, give me 20 Patrick Reed’s for every 1 of the guys who adhere to the thousands of media classes in which they went to and only give us the robotic type answers. Guys like Reed can’t win either way. Not only is he a great young golfer, but his attitude and demeanor bring eyeballs to a regular run of the mill golf tournament, that can’t be a bad thing.

    1. Mikey says:

      You think Marshawn Lynch is a moron? That’s the same thing people thought about Jon McEnroe, and look how he turned out. It’s called marketing, and Lynch happens to be doing it better than anyone in the NFL. Genius is the right word here, not moron.

      1. TJ says:

        Genius? You’ve got to be kidding me.

        Have you listened to the man speak? He is clearly not a genius and anyone that thinks that is genius marketing must be an ignorant consumer.

  37. Vivian says:

    Wow! it’s the best sport’s article I’ve ever read. It’s not just about Reed, but also about people involved by/with him. What’s the boundary between of acceptable willing to win with do whatever it take to win in sport since at the end lots of time people just look at the result: winning. Like, Augusta state won back-to-back national champion as an underdog. It makes me think twice in the future who and what I am cheering for. Outstanding writing. I’ll look for your book, Shane.

  38. P. Worth Thompson says:

    I taught this young man in high school and have a very different take on him than his coaches and teammate’s. Not everyone takes the same path. And Patrick Reed nor anyone else owes us the privilege to examine his path. He is a fine young man. Brash, loyal but wary. A lot like his old teacher.

    1. ML says:

      “owes us the privilege to examine his path”

      Yep, sounds like a high school teacher. If he does something in public, then people may think about it. They may (gasp) have an opinion on it. They may even say something about it. And yes, their opinion may differ from yours, so all the pseudo high road shaming tactics are hot air. It’s life. Develop yourself a thicker skin, Thompson and you’ll (probably) be fine. Reed probably has.

      1. jack sprat says:

        This is one of those times when reading comprehension is your friend.

        “…Patrick Reed nor anyone else owes us the privilege to examine his path.” — P. Worth Thompson

        As you remark, ML, “opinion(-s) may differ” and Mr. Thompson may well have intended to shame those gossips whose delight is partaking of the vampire’s feast.

        That said, his message is that Mr. Reed owes none of us his active, ongoing participation in his own savaging. Mr. Ryan, as others, may presume to make sport of another man’s life, but that man is under no obligation to slake his, or their, or your, dark thirst.

  39. Tom says:

    Great article, but please learn the difference in the use of the objective and nominative case of “he” and “him”. It detracts significantly from the grammatical quality of the writing.

    1. TheWind says:

      Tom, no offense, but if you wonder why kids (and many adults) lack basic grammar skills, it’s because people write and talk about the use of “objective” and “nominative” cases rather than providing a pithy, more easily understood explanation for the errors at issue. I agree that it is a bit distracting, but I probably would have overlooked it given the time pressures alluded to in the introduction.

  40. Kiwi says:

    First saw Patrick at the British Open. What a character! He is amongst the great personalities in the game that bring in the crowds. Didn’t take to him at first but now a firm fan! Loved the way he Shushed the crowd!!! I was a marshal at the Open & enjoyed every moment!

  41. Mary G says:

    Gossip, innuendos and thin research are among the many things used to sell books. It doesn’t take much to write superficial and shallow articles.
    I enjoy watching Patrick Reed play golf. I pull for him because “the establishment media” trashed him for his “top 5” comment. One must have a confident attitude to excel at any sport. He is an exciting new golfer and a good golfer. He was outstanding at the Ryder Cup event this past year.
    Let’s get on with the season and see how many more wins he will have!

  42. Mark says:

    The saddest part is something that happens quite often. Young men somehow become disenchanted with their own parents and decide their new girlfriend is the best influence going forward, even at the risk of that parental relationship. I’m not saying anything negative about Justine because there isn’t enough information, but I think that angle should be explored further. I once heard “rumor” from former college teammates that they didn’t care for Reed (as evidenced in this article) but also voiced their distaste for her as well. There is more to this story.

    1. Wally F says:

      Actually Mark – your comment is about Justine and it is saying something negative. Take a look at the what is known about Justine’s influence…She has been a big part of Reed’s success on tour – as a caddie, as a coach and as a wife. If Patrick decided Justine was the best influence – then it looks like he made a good choice.

      Or you can go by the rumors…what some guy said who was talking to a roommate of a college teammate who dated the neighbor of the coach’s sister’s hairdresser….

    2. Mill says:

      I know the parents. They are good good people. They are devastated to say the least. What is more compelling about this article is how the author got his information which is slightly skewed, at best. Yes, there are two sides to every story and the other version is quite different than pierces of this article.

  43. Noel says:

    A very old saying comes to mind. “your daughter is your daughter all the days of her life,
    your son is your son till he gets himself a wife”.
    Patrick Reed a YOUNG golfer we will hear much more of.

  44. Gary says:

    “Pinky Pig” is the nickname for this guy, behaviour that will haunt him and be part of his future. He may win, he will never be a winner.

  45. Mikey says:

    Awesome reporting, loved the story, great writing.

    But bro. Object pronouns. I was going to let it go but you made the same mistake three times, and it’s really easy to get it right if you just think about it for a second.

    “… I finally sat down with he and Justine….”
    ” enjoyed my time in West Virginia with he and Justine….”
    “…a profile picture showing he and Patrick at a golf tournament….”

    All of those hes should be hims. And here’s how you remember which is right: take out the other person from the sentence. If you remove the “and [name of person],” the sentences suddenly sound really silly.

    I sat down with he. I enjoyed my time with he. Bill had a picture of he at a golf tournament.

    You see? It’s not that hard. And now you’ll never forget which one is right! You’re welcome.

    1. TheWind says:

      My God. You called him “bro” and then provided a grammar lesson. Then again, it was a much better explanation (for those who need it) than the others in this thread, so you have that going for you.

      1. Mikey says:

        Thank, man. I hope you don’t mean to imply that one cannot have a casual conversation about grammar. It’s only words, after all — little words, in fact, that are noticed by only tightasses like us. Bro.

        By the way, I was your other pertainent comment on this thread. Spot on.

        1. Mikey says:

          *I saw your other comment. Wow, I got dyslexic there for a minute.

        2. TheWind says:

          Mikey, I agree that we can have a casual conversation about grammar. I was really just giving you sh!t (and what’s more casual than that?) about calling him “bro” above. But I had to give you points for the concise, well-written explanation of the errors at issue, which is far more helpful than telling him to do a better job of using the nominative case. So kudos to you, bro!

    2. Shane says:

      Okay, you crazy grammar nerds, I’ve fixed these. Thanks for the note…there’s something about “him and ____” that just sounds wrong or awkward to me, and I think I write by sound a lot of the time, hence the “he and _____” formulations. But I appreciate the correction, and will be more careful in the future.

      1. Mikey says:

        I understand the frustration. You’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place: use what your gut tells you and you risk sounding “uneducated”, rubbing snobby grammar nazis the wrong way; use what’s “correct” and risk sounding pretentious, alienating the rest of your readers. Maybe it’s time some of these “rules” be updated to match the way most people speak.

        In this circumstance, though, I think enough people still use the “correct” form that it’s still worth being considered correct. Although, if it sounds wrong and awkward to you, and you’re a professional writer of the English language, maybe I’m the one who’s wrong. Maybe this rule has fallen by the wayside, it’s dead body dragged into the present day by a bunch of “Get off my lawn!” types.

        A good, quick read on the topic of what to do with grammar in the present day is The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker. It looks at these sorts of rules from a neuroscience and linguist point of view, rather than blindly accepting rules as rules because they’re rules and that’s the way rules are.

        1. Mikey says:

          *its. Oops.

        2. Shane says:

          Yeah, it’s not even a rule I didn’t know. If you had given me a quiz with both sentences, I would’ve picked the right one, for the right reason. It’s just that when writing, there’s a rhythm that you want to keep, so sometimes you’ll make a mistake in service of the sound. I don’t really like “him and ____” in general, and in the future I’ll find a different way to write it, but I’m glad you pointed this out so I don’t make the “he and ____” mistake again.

        3. Mikey says:

          No, thank you for taking the time to read some the comments by a bunch anonymous idiots on the Internet! It’s not every day that you see a blog post like this get such huge media attention, and I think it’s pretty cool that you’re responding to your readers like this. Keep up the good work, and I’ll keep my eyes peeled for your posts on Grantland and your upcoming book.

        4. Darren K Johnston says:


        5. jack sprat says:

          When the average Swede speaks and writes your language better than you do, it’s surely time to make a better effort.

    3. Tom B. says:

      Nice explanation on how to keep it straight and same way I learned long ago.

  46. J K Anderson says:

    A purely journalistic piece, written by a self-serving journalist, sent out early because of self-serving journalism; and it makes me sense even more why many golfers (as well as other athletes) shun the media. If Patrick was ‘wary’ before, he certainly will be more wary of letting any writer interview him in the future, at least I would be. I believe that the writer’s craft is more than just getting a scoop. It should be more about presenting the story with reality, sensitivity, and a balance of optimism and insight – even when dealing with troubling issues. Yes, the story was interesting, but it was distastefully presented in a purely self-serving way.

    1. Mikey says:

      How should he have presented it? Just curious.

      1. ML says:

        Combination of how the pgatour shares with the press (complete openness), and how the golf channel reports (with hard-hitting questions from an independent viewpoint)

  47. crouse says:

    I really enjoyed reading this piece. Since you’re a writer, I hope you won’t mind that I point out that you talked to him, not he. “I enjoyed my time in West Virginia with he and Justine “

  48. Bruce says:

    Very good article. With his apperent out of control temper, I would be concerned for Justine and the baby. Hopefully somebody reaches out to him

    1. Wally F says:

      Out of control temper???? how is that apparent?

      He cursed on the golf course and it went viral…pretty much makes him like 99% of all pro golfers.

      I am sure his wife and baby are in no danger Bruce…but maybe you should reach out to make sure!!

    2. jack sprat says:

      He has hair on the backs of his knuckles, Bruce. Deal with it and we’ll refrain from making too much of the fact that Kim K’s panties were those of your own step-daughter.

      1. Tom B. says:


  49. Jeff says:

    Nice job. Enjoyed reading it.

  50. Gingy Quinn says:

    “Okay, you crazy grammar nerds, I’ve fixed these. Thanks for the note…there’s something about “him and ____” that just sounds wrong or awkward to me, and I think I write by sound a lot of the time, hence the “he and _____” formulations. But I appreciate the correction, and will be more careful in the future.”

    The reason the above sounds awkward is because while the other commenters are correct about object pronouns, they neglected to mention that the objective pronoun always comes second when paired. It would be “Justine and him” not “him and Justine.” (I’m an English teacher.)

    1. David says:

      Thank you! I am so glad you have cleared the object pronoun saga up for me. I believe I wasn’t the only one who benefited from your insight. Wink.

    2. Tom B. says:

      Aaaah. Did not know that. Thanks.

  51. chuck says:

    Well written, informative article. Most chronic winners are driven and “villians” in their chosen competitive environment. The “win” is the “high” for these individuals. They are addicted to that “high” and will do what it takes to get it. The personalities of these individuals will be abrasive and combative as with all addicts. Addiction requires professional help.

    1. jack sprat says:

      Yet another vote for the Therapeutic State. Why bother living at all, when that’s the purposeless course of your existence?

  52. Mike says:

    The great Bob Jones said of the equally great Jack Nicklaus “He plays a game with which I am not familiar” What a fabulous compliment. It would be nice if Patrick had a coffee (a long one!!!) with Jack or Tom Watson. We might then quote Bob Jones again. P.S. Or send Patrick over here to ???land and we will let him try the links courses and help him “bite his tongue”
    Patrick: Well done in the Ryder Cup.
    Shane: Well done on the article.

  53. Zollie Ferrell says:

    One of the least productive things we can do, it seems to me, is to to let our knowledge, or supposed knowledge, or interest in the personality or personal life of an artist or athlete become more important than their work. It is remarkable to me how many great artists and athletes seem to fail in their personal lives, at least by standards we would normally apply. Golf is an individual, not a team sport (to any meaningful degree). I would rather learn more about his game; the rest is gossip.

  54. Patrick says:

    You deserve my compliments for keeping me interested in reading the entire piece. as normally I would not have read an entire lengthy article about a young professional golfer. However, I do feel you may have been too hard on Patrick and Justine Reed.

    Here’s hoping that Patrick Reed will continue to perform at the highest levels and that he and Justine will have a healthy and happy family. Here’s hoping Patrick’s parents will simply step back and hope that the passage of time will allow reconciliation at some future point.

    As a young man I had a longstanding rift with my parents but many years later we were able to reach a healthy reconciliation. I hope that might happen for the Reeds some day.

  55. Jay says:

    Patrick Reed is a phenomenal golfer. I’m sure he’s also not the greatest guy, and perhaps he’s even has some sort of disorder. He’s also not a serial killer. But if you run down, as an example, the list of all-time PGA tour winners (and I’m a big fan of most of these great players), that may be the recipe for success: No. 1 – Sam Snead would make Patrick Reed look like a choir boy. No. 2 -Tiger…enough said. No. 4 – Ben Hogan – was completely unliked until after his accident. Many of the other guys are not as great as everybody thinks either. Oh BTW, probably the biggest criticism of guys like Rory and Adam Scott is that they’re “too nice” and don’t have the killer instinct. Maybe that’s the real story.

  56. Wally F says:

    Not sure why the author would think this might be interesting as it is nothing more than hack journalism…on par with TMZ or Perez Hilton – or worse yet – Rolling Stone. From the very beginning, the writer’s intent is pretty clear. He wants his shock to hit the public before someone else does it. Perhaps if this were a more substantive and better documented story, the author could have found a “more flexible” medium in which he could publish his work. Instead, he is relegated to the blogosphere – the home of those who want to play at journalism – see their words in print yet not have to abide by the standards of the industry.

    What is truly disappointing is how obvious the story’s deficiencies are. Almost every one of Reed’s shortcomings and transgressions are backed only by “un-named” sources or are the product of rumor or innuendo. When presented with the opportunity to ask Reed directly about specific events or specific comments from others, Shane dances around it…alludes to an article…then backs off, and later asserts that Reed and his wife are lying and decides for the reader that Reed is guilty of something far more serious than underage drinking. I would think that if your investigative skills are so well-honed (after all, you published this “story” so as to preserve this extensive “legwork”) you would at least be able to come up with something more than your gut feeling.

    After reading your work in its entirety, it is clear that the legwork is far from being adequate. You have virtually no support for your assertions as to Reed’s character flaws. You seem to have no problem attacking Reed’s character based on the statements of cowards who are unwilling to put their names behind their words. And when faced with this sort of questionable information – you fail to make any effort to substantiate any of it. Yet that does not stop you from making it public.
    With the opportunity to twist the knife again and add a story of family dysfunction on top of your character assassination, you do not hesitate. Your journalistic integrity again takes a back seat to airing some dirty laundry. Poor Bill and Jeanette, right? What did they do to deserve this kind of treatment? That evil, gold-digger Justine has clearly cast a spell over Patrick – tearing him from the loving arms of his family. Not one party involved in this relationship has addressed these issues directly – yet you seem to be able to write extensively on how and when the relationship broke and pinpoint

    You label this blog post as a sample of your writing from the past year…but not an excerpt from your book. That is encouraging as one would hope that your publisher would hold you to a higher standard than you clearly hold yourself…but seeing as how Amazon has already slashed the price of your book – it looks like it might be more of the same.

  57. Lon says:

    All the time I was reading this I was thinking of Ben Hogan. Looking forward to seeing how Patrick is remembered after his career is finished.

  58. Glenn says:

    “built like Babe Ruth—short . . .” Did not know that 6’2″was now short. Took a while for the author to regain his credibility. In fact, he might not have.

    To win as Reed has at the level he plays requires a fierceness of mind that is in fact the common thread running through all successful PGA players. Some wear it on their sleeve, others hide it better, others find a more benign way to express it, but they all have it. At the extreme, some, like Reed, seem to need the antagonism to gin up their desire. Perhaps when his opponents don’t give him a rise, he can always fall back on Mom and Dad.

    Can’t say if their removal from the tournament was right or wrong, but judging by their social media posting, there is obviously more behind the estrangement, and perhaps Reed and his wife have good reason to avoid them. We have no complete idea of what the father put the boy through over the years; even his antagonists in college recalled their hearing the father ride him too hard at that point. Wonder enough that Patrick has persevered.

    And I don’t agree with this or other journalists, who seem to believe that Reed somehow ought to or has an obligation to explain himself to them. Journalists may write whatever is not maliciously false, and many do for many reasons other than their self-proclaimed service and benefit to the public. No person, even a voluntary public figure, has any obligation to cooperate in serving the ulterior motives of the press.

    1. William M says:

      Can’t agree more….like Harman alluded; he’s being skewered for something he did (at Georgia) when he was 17. And, not enough was said about the father/son relationship that had to be at least a contributing factor for his early “win at all costs” behavior. Who knows, maybe the father put so much pressure on the kid he felt he must cheat to please dear old Dad.
      I would hope the book at the very least draws a picture that will allow the reader to make their own decision on the root cause of Reed’s behavior pattern because this article certainly doesn’t.

  59. Mike S says:

    Good timing on the article. Just in time to promote the book. If I had read less “sources said” and more Joe blow said I might see this article as something more than hack journalism trying to promote a book. Unfortunately I didn’t so I’ll call a spade a spade. Hack journalism and an attempt to promote your book. There is nothing to protect here as far as sources go. So either quote your sources or find reliable sources to have balls enough to talk on the record. and what the heck does this stuff have to do with “the young guns taking over the sport?”

    It’s too bad that in the “digital age” anyone with a laptop and an internet connection can be a “journalist” or an author.

    1. jack sprat says:

      Yes, we need to return to the halcyon days of yesteryear, when the bald, shameless lies of Lincoln Stephens stood as Gospel truth at the Old Gray Lady-of-the-Night for more than half a century.

  60. John C says:

    Though just a secondary character in the article… I can see Harris English putting it in the pond in front of Torrey Pines 18th hole if things are tight at that point of today’s 4th round… just like in the article.

  61. Aaron Leyden says:

    This is the single greatest article I have ever read! Incredibly informative, and an unusual insight into an unreported often disguised world of the PGA tour Pro, especially someone as ‘vibrant’ as reed

  62. William M says:

    So the writer has chosen someone on the world stage and decided to point out shortcomings, many of which occurred during teenaged years? And quite frankly, the family relationship is none of anyone’s business even if the overbearing father chooses to air laundry on social media. I’ll have to say, it’s a pretty easy way to make a buck Mr. Writer……..

  63. Bob E says:

    Is it just me or does Patrick Reed and his tale/personality have similarities to a young David Duval? Reed does not appear to be the type of person (at least at this stage of his life) who would take counsel from anyone, but I would think a mature David Duval could impart some helpful advice to him.

    1. Patrick Pine says:

      I had the same thought that this sounded much like what was the view of a young David Duval. But I am reluctant to assume that Reed is as bad as this single discussion makes him appear to be. There is no question that Reed publicly shows a high degree of confidence which appears to be arrogant. I have no doubt that Reed’s parents believe that he has abandoned them and also that Reed’s wife is a cause of the break in contact with their son. But that by itself does not mean much to me – my parents and I went through years of estrangement which began right after I was married. After many years we reconciled – but we are not in the public eye like the Reeds. When we look at the best athletes in many sports we see a similar trait of great ability and performance coupled with a public image of extreme arrogance – think Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant or Tiger Woods.
      If I were to meet Reed in person I might find that he is not like the image that has been painted here or perhaps I will not like him at all. But I recall all of the negative images of Duval but now see a man who has accepted that he is not better than others who is seen in an entirely different, more positive light.
      Basically I now wish this profile of Reed was never written and was not published – I am not sure why Patrick and Justine Reed’s personal life and strained relationship with Patrick’s parents is any of my business. I grew to feel the same way about Duval.

  64. Rod D says:

    Arrogance and competitive immaturity are qualities which may serve one well in the sporting world, but will lead most likely to future conflicts. Some which may not be able to be hidden (see Mr. Woods) from public view. When Jack Nicholas was asked about a young talented Tiger’s future he elloquantly pointed out their are many things other than golf which can derail a career. The estrangement of his parents is the focus of all our attention, not his tenacity. Tenacity on the golf course is not his character flaw. That seems to be “par” for a PGA player. This does bring focus to the split between qualities we teach young athletes everyday to compete, and the qualites of humility and respect we expect in every day interaction.
    I feel sorry for his parents and him. If we all estranged ourselves in retaliation for parental failings to the level of no wedding invite or being removed from a public event, many a parent child relationship would follow this same path.

  65. Josh says:

    You – my man – have a problem on your hands if both coaches, as reported, have official statements refuting the article. #uhoh?

  66. J.A. Animal says:

    Reed’s body language in the GC interview said it all: Pathological liar.

  67. Buzz says:

    Patrick Reed made mistakes in his youth, as we all have. What is more important is how he conducts himself as he gets older. We are all flawed. His flaws happened to be revealed because he is on the big stage now. It must be tough to have your laundry aired out when you become successful. I would not want my laundry aired out, after success on the big stage. would you?

  68. Lloyd says:

    According to Sports Illustrated, his wife is 4 years older than Patrick. I would spend some of my riches to verify. More like 14 years older. Since he is close to her family and she has his removed from the grounds at US Open, she sounds very controlling. I,m no holy roller but I find it offensive he wears a very prominent Cross around his neck when he can’t forgive his parents and sister for whatever reason. To me, the Cross is the ultimate symbol of forgiveness! All you really have in this world are family and friends. He may be money rich but sounds bankrupt to me!

    1. darlenewebster says:

      You are SO right, Lloyd!

  69. matt says:

    Watching golf is one of the most boring things I can think of, yet I love your writing about it. (I had to look up what “8 & 7” was, but I read the whole thing.)

    1. Tom B. says:

      Pretty coll, matt.

  70. darlenewebster says:

    I really enjoyed your article, and would like to read your book! Although I must say that reading this has made me really dislike Patrick Reed. I’m sitting here watching him and Jordan Spieth right now at the U.S. open. I can’t help but think “cheater-liar”. And, as a parent and grandmother, there is no way I can condone his treatment of his parents! What an ungrateful son! …and brother! If this is what it takes to be a champion, the price is too high!

  71. for the rest of their lives.

  72. sffitz says:

    I met Patrick after the Honda Classic. Miserable weather. Patrick stayed and signed autographs for all of the kids who were waiting. He signed my son’s hat for my wife and was very, very pleasant. Rory, Dustin, and many other “stars” ignored all the kids and refused any contact. This was Dustin’s first day back from suspension. He clearly doesn’t get it.

  73. Dave Peterson says:

    I enjoyed your book greatly, Shane and detect much merit in your analyses even if they are necessarily sketchy at certain points.

    One other grammatical issue is your failure to recognize that the principal parts of the verb “to sink” are “sink”, “sank” and “have sunk”.

    The past participle is “sank” as in He sank the putt to win the Open. “Sunk should be used only in the perfect tenses with “have’, “has” or “had”.

  74. Optimal says:

    After he won the Cadillac he said he was one of the five top players on the PGA tour. What a low-life. Hope he never wins again. He is a real douchebag!!!!!!!!!!

  75. Jalann says:

    I tried to post a lengthy heartfelt msg for and about Patrick. I dont see it yet. If this posts then I will try again.

    1. Paul says:

      Patrick Reed is a spoiled brat. The only people that tolerate him are Americans. After watching the 2016 Ryder cup, I realise why most of the world hates yanks. Willett said it all. Drunken, obnoxious, selfish, rude, loud uneducated pigs.

  76. Tom B. says:

    If, as reported, there was discussion intense enough to the point of shouting over the telephone regarding failing to win, to the point of Patrick hanging up, I tend to conclude the current state of estrangement is not just out of the blue or totally unjust. Also, found this article to be a breath of fresh air versus what seems to me to be the all too carefully orchestrated “everyone’s a good guy (or gal)” in the impossibly squeaky clean la-la land portrayal by the broadcast, and especially cable, networks.

  77. Sheryl Gripper says:

    I contacted Dr Mack regarding my Ex Boyfriend. who stopped loving for some reason, after begging and pleading with him I realized it was because of another Girl, he really was leaving me. My co-worker went threw a similar situation and told me that Dr Mack had helped her. I cant thank her enough, I’m grateful to her for introducing me Dr Mack to me. After discussing the resolution with Dr Mack, his service has done more than what I expected. My Ex Boyfriend not only came back to me, but he had also totally left the other Girl and now we are engaged, we are getting married soon, I don’t know what I would have done without Dr.Mack, His email is dr.mac@yahoo. com…

  78. Kay Sher says:

    Good article but Patrick Reed is still a number one jerk and his wife right behind him. He and his wife should be ashamed of the way they treat his parents. Patrick didn’t get where he is on his own accord. Who shuttled his behind around when he was a kid, who put up with his miserable disposition and who was always there for him, not Justine. Again, shame on them both. I hope there children treat them the way Patrick & Justine treat his parents. Karma is a bad thing, and hopefully in this case what goes around comes around.

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