Patrick Reed entered the final round of the 2018 Masters with a three stroke lead, but it may not be the homecoming for the Augusta State alum that fans are expecting. Reed is originally from San Antonio, Texas but spent a lot of his golf career in Georgia. Reed started college at Georgia, but it lasted only one golf season. According to Shane Ryan’s book Slaying the Tiger: A Year Inside the Ropes on the New PGA Tour, Reed was kicked off the Georgia golf team, and he opted to transfer to Augusta State.
Slaying the Tiger noted Reed had multiple incidents on the team including suspicion of stolen goods, cheating and a handful of alcohol-related incidents.
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.
Slaying the Tiger also reported Reed was arrested multiple times for public intoxication.
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.
These incidents caused Georgia coach Chris Haack to believed the family had tried to cover up the arrests. According to Slaying the Tiger, this was the final of many events that caused Haack to remove Reed from the team, despite his talent.
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.
All this led Reed on a journey to Augusta where the reviews would also be mixed.
Patrick Reed’s Days at Augusta State Were Full of Championships & Controversy
According to a 2014 ESPN story by Ian O’Connor, Reed did not make a great first impression with either the Augusta State coaches or his new teammates. Former Augusta teammate Henrik Norlander spoke with ESPN about Reed’s propensity of talking.
“He shot his mouth off early on when he shouldn’t have,” Norlander told ESPN.
Reed’s coach at Augusta State, Josh Gregory knew what he was in for when Reed transferred from Georgia.
“All I asked him to do was keep his mouth shut and play golf and let his golf clubs do the talking for him,” Gregory told ESPN. “It was the only way for him to earn the respect of his teammates. Patrick was on his final strike, and he knew that. If he didn’t shape up, he couldn’t go anywhere else. Even if he made the tour at that point, maturity-wise he would’ve gotten eaten up. I told him he was never going to make it if he didn’t get things under control.”
According to ESPN, Reed’s teammates nearly voted him off the team at Augusta State. This never happened, and things eventually appeared to get better. It was not all bad at Augusta State as Reed led the team to two straight national championships despite being a mid-major. The school’s home golf course at Forest Hills if four miles away from Augusta National. In a more recent ESPN article, Gregory was complimentary of Reed.
“Patrick is like a basketball player who wants the ball at the end of a game,” Gregory told ESPN. “He’s like a quarterback who wants the ball in a two-minute drill. He wants all the pressure to be on himself. There’s not many people in the world who have that quality, and it’s a hell of a quality to have. He loves the pressure, he embraces it, and if he loses, I promise you, it won’t be because he was afraid.”
Gregory also pointed to Reed as the underdog story if he is able to win his first green jacket.
“It would be the equivalent of Loyola of Chicago winning the basketball title [one] year and going on to win it again,” Gregory told ESPN. “That would be an identical story.”
Reed has admitted there were some things he handled poorly during his college days.
“Golf is an individual sport until you get to college, and then it’s a team sport,” Reed told ESPN. “I was focused on me and my golf game and that wasn’t helping the team. After sitting down with Josh, it helped me realize that it’s not all me, me, me.”
According to Golf.com, Reed admitted to the alcohol-related offenses, but denied cheating or stealing from his teammates. When Slaying the Tiger was released in 2015, Reed issued a statement to the Golf Channel defending himself against some of the claims.
The accusations that were made against me are serious and were intended to damage my reputation and character. They will not be taken lightly. My team and my representatives are looking into all aspects of this matter, and we look forward to setting the record straight.
For now, I’m staying focused on my life in the present and being the best husband, father and golfer I can be.
Reed won his first green jacket in his college town during a weekend that theoretically could have been a homecoming story. His family lives in Augusta, but multiple reports indicate Reed is not on speaking terms with his parents.
Reed winning the Masters could either be viewed as the latest underdog story in a sports year full of Davids triumphing Goliaths, or an anti-climatic ending to the most anticipated Masters in years.
There is always the chance Reed has changed since college, as most of us would not want the entirety of our college days laid out for public consumption. Tiger Woods just went on a redemption tour of Augusta with standing applause all over the course, and is not far removed from his dark days playing out in front of us. The truth is we do not really know our athletes, even the ones we think we do. It is easy for an athlete to construct a narrative that is pleasant, just as a few negative articles can paint someone as the villain.
It is understandable that when a golfer is called “Captain America” on the winning putt there will be pushback given some of the ghosts that continue to follow Reed. What has become clear is Reed is quite a golfer, and the past green jacket winners will be eating off Reed’s menu next year at the Champions Dinner.