Of the four PGA Tour players under the age of 25 with multiple victories, three played on the same college golf team for one year.
Patrick Reed, Russell Henley and Harris English, who have seven PGA Tour victories between them since the beginning of the 2013 season, were members of the Georgia Bulldogs golf team in 2008-09.
The three did not remain teammates for long. Reed transferred after his freshman season to Augusta State, where he led the Jaguars to back-to-back national championships in 2010 and 2011.
Reed, who scored his third victory since August when he held on to win the World Golf Championship event at Doral, did not attract a great deal of attention as a college golfer despite some impressive accomplishments during his two seasons in Augusta.
Along with Henrik Norlander, who is playing on the Web.com Tour this year after competing on the PGA Tour in 2013, Reed led the Jaguars to six straight match play victories in the NCAA Championship against some high-profile competition.
But when Reed turned pro immediately after Augusta’s second straight national title, he did so with less fanfare than some of his other college contemporaries.
The Jaguars defeated Georgia Tech and Oklahoma State in both their NCAA Championship runs, beating the heavily-favored Cowboys on their home course in the 2010 finals. After a second win against both Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech in 2011, the Jaguars successfully defended their title by defeating Reed’s former team in the championship match.
In 2010, Reed beat Georgia Tech’s Chesson Hadley, who won a PGA Tour event in Puerto Rico the same day Reed scored his WGC title, before taking out Oklahoma State’s heralded Peter Uihlein in the finals.
The following year, Reed defeated James White, Tech’s top player, as well as drubbing Uihlein for a second time, before taking the decisive match in the finals against English. Reed went 6-0 in his NCAA Championship matches.
Georgia’s 2011 team included current PGA Tour players English, Henley and Hudson Swafford, along with Bryden Macpherson, who went on to win the British Amateur shortly after the Bulldogs’ defeat in the NCAA Championship.
The Bulldogs lost in the semifinals of the NCAA Championship in 2009 when Reed was a freshman on the team, but he was not in the lineup for Georgia in the big Spring tournaments that year.
Georgia’s lineup consisted of Henley, English, Swafford and senior Brian Harman, all currently on the PGA Tour, with senior Adam Mitchell, a Web.com member this year, joining them as a starter.
Reed, who reportedly encountered some off-course problems as a freshman in Athens, was allowed to transfer from Georgia without having to sit out a season. He wound up in Augusta, where his parents moved to after Reed graduated from high school in Baton Rouge, La.
Although he was a semifinalist in the 2008 U.S. Amateur, losing to eventual champion Danny Lee, Reed did not make much of an impact on the course as a freshman at Georgia. He played respectably during the Fall season before Mitchell claimed the No. 5 spot in the lineup. But Reed became a force as soon he joined the Jaguars in the Fall of 2009.
Reed’s transfer from Georgia to Augusta State wound up having an enormous impact on college golf. The Jaguars would not have won an NCAA Championship without him, and with the talent that remained in Athens, Georgia would certainly have been an even stronger contender to repeat their NCAA titles of 1999 and 2005.
Those connected to the teams at Georgia Tech and Oklahoma State also can play the “what if” game, with both losing twice to the Reed-sparked Jaguars in 2010 and ’11.
Reed made his professional debut just days after ending his college career with his championship-clinching victory over English, playing in the PGA Tour event in Memphis on a sponsor’s invitation. He missed the cut, but got into two more PGA Tour events that
year, making the cut in both. After failing to reach the finals of Q-school, Reed began 2012 with no status on any tour.
Instead of going the mini-tour route, Reed elected to enter as many Monday four-spot qualifiers for the PGA Tour as he could and was amazingly successful. He played his way into six tournaments, got sponsor’s exemptions into six more, and made the cut in seven, earning around $300,000 for his tireless efforts.
This time Reed made it to the finals of Q-school, and after a slow start, shot 18-under the last four rounds to advance on the number. He enjoyed a solid rookie season with four top-10 finishes before out-dueling 2013 Rookie of the Year Jordan Spieth in a memorable playoff in Greensboro for his first pro victory.
A forgettable showing in the FedExCup playoffs ended Reed’s rookie season on a down note, and things didn’t get any better in his handful of starts late last year in the early tournaments on the 2013-14 schedule.
But in his first six stroke play starts of 2014, Reed has picked up two more titles and finished in the top 25 in all six, rising to 20th in the World Rankings.
Reed won the Humana Challenge with three straight 63s on three different courses to build a seven-shot lead and held on to win by two. He also had the 54-hole lead at Doral, this time by a modest two strokes, and turned in a solid Sunday effort on a treacherous course to win by one against a star-studded field.
In an interview with NBC during the tournament, Reed commented that he felt he was a top-five player, and that observation received considerable discussion in the golf media.
“I have a lot of confidence in my game.” Reed said in his post-victory media interview. “I feel like I’m one of the hardest workers out here and it definitely shows. I have three wins in 14 starts, and I’m working my way up to be a top-five player in the world.”
With his run of victories that began last August in Greensboro, Reed says he “belongs to be in the conversation every week” and expects to “contend at every tournament” he enters.
Even at his young age (he turns 24 in August), Reed has established himself as a closer, winning all three of his tournaments in which he led after 54 holes. He has also drawn attention for his Sunday apparel, adopting the Tiger Woods red shirt, black pants color scheme, which he has worn since his junior days.
“I always thought it would be cool to wear black and red come Sunday. I did it when I was in juniors, I did it in amateur golf, and it’s worked. Obviously, there’s something behind it.”
Reed has taken the confidence he gained from his success in the NCAA Championships, PGA Tour Monday qualifiers and Q-school, and applied it to golf’s biggest stage.
“All that just kind of builds up and you know that you can put four rounds together.”
With three wins and a world ranking of 20, the fact that Reed has been a PGA Tour member for only 15 months has been overlooked, with Reed accomplishing those achievements before he made his first start in one of golf’s four majors.
Reed makes his major championship debut in Augusta, and unlike most Masters rookies, has played the course, just not in competition. Reed got to play Augusta National three times during his college days, but says he played the course when it was “wet, cold.”
He’s looking forward to playing it under more conducive conditions, and has had quite a few months to think about his first Masters appearance.
“Any professional golfer is going to think about it, being able to play in the Masters,” Reed said after qualifying for the tournament with his win last year in Greensboro.
“I can’t wait. I have butterflies thinking about it.”