Patrick Reed has probably never been accused of underselling himself. And that's putting it mildly. Back in college, when he was leading Augusta State to two NCAA championships (2010-'11), his coach often pleaded with him to keep his mouth shut and let his clubs do the talking. But that's just not Reed's style. After he won the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral a year ago, he declared himself one of the top-five players in the world—and he had yet to even play in a major.OK, so he's cocky. For now, the native Texan is backing it up. His playoff win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in January was his fourth on tour since August 2013. And at the Ryder Cup last fall, Johnny Miller—no stranger to the brash department—spoke glowingly of Reed's gutsy play. While most of the American players were getting slapped around by the Europeans, Reed went 3-0-1. He'll no doubt be a favorite at the Masters in April.Here, Reed's teacher, Kevin Kirk, director of instruction at The Woodlands Country Club outside Houston, looks at a swing that by all appearances is as fearless as its owner.
MIRROR, MIRRORTeacher Kevin Kirk gives Patrick Reed several one-minute exercises that he does indoors in front of a mirror. "These promote patterning," Kirk says, "and coordinate layers of movement." One exercise at setup checks basics like head position and posture. "He's balanced here, head back," Kirk says. "Good for driving."
Going back, Reed's lower body provides a stable base against which his rib cage and forearms move to the right. "Well into the backswing, his left knee has barely moved, but his shoulders are almost fully turned," Kirk says. This early in the swing, Reed is already starting to store power.
WAIT FOR ITReed says his thought at the top is to stay patient—"almost a pause," he says. Kirk likes the L-shape made by the clubshaft and the left arm, which is formed by the time the arm is parallel with the ground. "He tries to be compact at the top," Kirk says. "There's no extra arm play in this backswing."
GOING FORWARD"We've worked hard to get the pressure moving across Patrick's feet, from his right foot to his left as he starts down," Kirk says. "See how he keeps his left knee bent? That shows he's moving his lower body well." He retains the angle between his left arm and clubshaft, which leads to a last-second power burst.
CLASSIC IMPACT"I love this impact photo," Kirk says. "He's in control. His body, arms and club are well-coordinated." Kirk points out that nothing is out-racing anything else. The look is similar to address. "If golfers would get into a good setup, turn back and return to that position at impact, they'd almost certainly improve."
SAFE FINISHKirk says he wants Reed to have a swing that will last, with a low likelihood of injury. "Patrick has great talent. We want him to use it for a long time," Kirk says. Reed's rib cage and forearms still work as a team, his right forearm turning over his left. "He's stacked up on his left leg, back straight," Kirk says. "No injury there."