Coming into the first of the FedExCup Playoffs events, Patrick Reed was very much on the bubble of the U.S. Ryder Cup standings, holding down the eighth and final spot for automatic inclusion on the team, with the Barclays the final tournament before the eighth automatic spots were determined.
Considering his performance in the 2014 Ryder Cup in Scotland, Reed was almost certain to be a captain’s pick by Davis Love. Reed took the decision out of Love’s hands, leading the tournament almost all the way before out-dueling fellow Ryder Cup aspirant Rickie Fowler in a high-pressure final round on one of the country’s most difficult golf courses.
Reed shared the lead after 18 holes at Bethpage Black and was two on front after 36 before falling one behind Fowler heading to the final round. Reed pulled even with three birdies in a four-hole stretch on the front nine and took a two-stroke lead when Fowler bogeyed the 11th and Reed birdied the long, par-4 12th.
Fowler played the last four holes in 3-over to make Reed’s task a little easier, with Reed bogeying two of the last three to finish at 9-under for the tournament and a one-stroke margin of victory.
The victory was Reed’s fifth in his four full seasons on the PGA Tour and his third in a high profile event. Reed won in Greensboro as a rookie in 2013 and followed with a pair of victories in 2014, the second in the WGC event at Doral. Prior to winning at Bethpage Black, his most recent title came in the 2015 Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
Reed has played well since winning the T of C in early 2015, but was winless for more than a year-and-a-half despite a long string of top finishes. Coming into the Barclays, he had nine top 10s in the 2015-16 season and five more finishes of 15th or better, two in the most recent major championships and a T11 in the Olympics.
“I felt like I’ve played really well all year. Just haven’t quite had the breakthrough W like today,” Reed said after his victory in New York.
“As you look through the other events, I have three out of four rounds that are pretty good and pretty solid, and then I have one round that puts me three or four out of the lead. Yesterday was my bad round (even par 71). And I went from ahead by two, only down by one. It wasn’t like I had to go out and shoot 62 like I have had to do in other events.”
Until his win in the FedExCup Playoffs, Reed had a long string of top finishes since his victory early last year in Hawaii, but that wasn’t enough for the highly competitive former Augusta State star.
“Top-tenning is great for making a living,” Reed said. “But at the end of the day, every time we play golf tournaments, we don’t settle for top tens. We’re going out there to try and get a W and try to get a trophy.
“At the end of the day, a bunch of top tens, it’s great. But it’s going to make you be on that bubble. I’ve had, it feels like a hundred top tens this year, and I’ve just kind of stayed there on that six, seven, eight, nine (number) on the Ryder Cup. It takes something like a win to be able to solidify yourself.”
In addition to locking up a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team ( he ended up fourth in the final standings), Reed’s victory also earned him a fourth straight invitation to the Tournament of Champions.
“If you go and win, it takes care of everything else,” Reed observed. “Gets you into the Tournament of Champions, gets you into the Ryder Cup, gets you the lead in the FedExCup. It takes care of everything.”
For Reed, the big incentive was the Ryder Cup and his first time to play in the event in front of supportive fans.
“So now, I finally get to play for the United States in the United States. I cannot wait to see how the fans are, and just have the whole crowd on our side this time. It’s going to be so much fun.”
Reed was one of the top performers for the U.S. team at Gleneagles, going 2-0-1 in three team matches with Jordan Spieth as a partner and defeating Henrik Stenson in singles. Reed and Spieth dominated their two four-ball matches and after sitting out the first foursomes session, when the U.S. went 0-3-1, Reed and Spieth got a half the next day, with the U.S. again going 0-3-1.
In last year’s Presidents Cup in South Korea, Reed went 1-2-1, halving with Louis Oosthuizen in singles and winning in four-ball with Spieth against Jason Day and Charl Schwartzel. He lost twice to Oosthuizen and Branden Grace in foursomes with partners Matt Kuchar and Fowler.
Reed first made his name as a match play ace during his two seasons at Augusta State, with the Jaguars winning NCAA Championships in 2010 and ’11 after Reed transferred following his freshman season in Athens on the UGA team.
After playing in the Fall of his freshman season at Georgia, Reed did not play in the Spring and was involved in several incidents that resulted in his transfer to Augusta. Reed had reported disputes with teammates at both Georgia and Augusta State, with his college travails detailed in a book about the PGA Tour that did not attract a great deal of attention.
On the course, Reed was one of most consequential players in NCAA history, leading the Jaguars to back-to-back NCAA titles along with fellow PGA Tour member Henrik Norlander. The Jaguars defeated perennial powers Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech twice each en route to their titles, beating Oklahoma State in the finals in 2010 and Georgia in the title match the next year.
Reed went 6-0 in match play, twice thrashing heralded Oklahoma State All-American Peter Uihlein, along with wins over Tech’s Chesson Hadley, Florida State’s Brooks Koepka and Georgia’s Harris English, the latter in the match that decided the 2011 NCAA Championship.
Immediately after the Jaguars won their second NCAA title, Reed turned pro with one year of college eligibility left. He failed in his first attempt at PGA Tour qualifying but made it on his second attempt after gaining some attention earlier in 2012 for his Monday qualifying prowess.
With no status on the tour, Reed competed in 12 PGA Tour events that year, most of them after he played his way into tournaments via four-spot qualifiers. He earned more than $300,000 with four top-25 finishes and enjoyed a strong rookie season in 2013, defeating Spieth in a playoff in Greensboro and finishing 54th in the final FedExCup standings.
Reed improved to 21st in 2014 and was 12th last year. With his win in the Barclays he was first on the points list and will make his third straight appearance in the Tour Championship at East Lake.