Sentry Tournament of ChampionsJanuary 2, 2019

Patrick Reed is reflecting on Augusta, not on the Ryder Cup brouhaha

Sentry Tournament of Champions - Preview Day 3
Sam GreenwoodLAHAINA, HI - JANUARY 02: Patrick Reed of the United States plays a shot during a practice round ahead of the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club on January 2, 2019 in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

KAPALUA, Hawaii — The green jacket that Patrick Reed was presented for winning the Masters is never far out of sight, tucked in his closet in such a way that he sees it in the morning when his day begins and just before he turns in at night.

“I use it as a motivation that I want to win more rather than satisfaction for something I’ve done,” he said.

Already one of golf’s most fiery competitors, if Reed were any more motivated he’d burst into flames. Which might not get much attention given his scorched-earth attitude when it comes to expressing his points of view. There is honesty and there is brutal honesty, and then there is the kiss-my-unmentionables brashness that Reed does not hesitate to express. And this was before he won last year’s Masters with an impeccable display of precision mixed with his personal brand of defiance.

The cheers for Reed were muted at Augusta National Golf Club as he refused to fold down the stretch. The feeling of that one-stroke victory over Rickie Fowler never left Reed the rest of the year, even as the game that produced that triumph didn’t re-materialize. But just before coming to Maui for the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Reed finally sat down and watched a replay of that magical Sunday.

“Just being able to reflect on it during the off season and go back to the week and watch a little bit of it was awesome because I haven’t seen any of the final round until this off season,” Reed said Wednesday at Kapalua Resort. “To be able to see some of it and just kind of know what I was thinking and watching myself hit the golf shots. I was able to learn a lot from it and try to carry over and try to use that and different situations, different moments that I have throughout the year and different rounds of golf.”

Winner at Kapalua in 2015, when he beat Jimmy Walker in a playoff, Reed probably could use some feel-good balm. It was a choppy fall for the six-time PGA Tour winner, the notion of which brought a smile to his face when the subject was broached.

He struggled in the Ryder Cup in Paris—and he obviously was not alone—but his mantle as the spiritual leader of the U.S. team took a hit after a flat performance paired with Tiger Woods in team play and then was further dented by some critical remarks he made that did not reflect well on his former sidekick, Jordan Spieth, and had to make Woods and U.S. captain Jim Furyk bristle.

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Essentially, he said it wasn’t his decision to break up the successful pairing with Spieth, which made it sound like he was getting “stuck” playing with Woods, the 14-time major winner coming off his 80th tour win the week before at the Tour Championship.

The 28-year-old Texan wasn’t going to make any excuses.

“The biggest thing is I've always wanted to be very, very real to who I am and I’m very passionate about my country, passionate about the game of golf,” he said. “And some people are going to like that, some people aren’t. It’s impossible to please everybody in this world. I mean it’s just not, it’s just not going to happen. You just got to stay true to who you are and play the game of golf and live the way that you feel like you know best represents yourself and best represents your family. And I feel like we’re doing that very well and just need to keep on doing what I do and keep on hopefully playing some better golf.”

Reed has had just one top-10 finish, at the HSBC Champions, since he made a run at the U.S. Open in June and finished fourth. Missing this event last year because he went winless in 2017 was disappointing because he had finished first, second and T-6 in his last three appearances.

The Plantation Course is for bombers, but Reed finds a way to navigate it with shot-making. He never has failed to shoot par or better in 16 rounds.

“I just feel like it taps into kind of the creativity that you need to play just like kind of at Augusta,” Reed said. “Play golf shots rather than golf swing. And for me during the off-season, it’s a lot about playing golf swing to make sure the technique and get the fundamentals where I want them to be. And then my first event back coming to a place like this where I can literally just get straight into golf mode, just playing golf shots, it just kind of fit right into my wheelhouse.”

Augusta always is not far from his mind. Rightly so. He already has his Champions Dinner menu finalized, though he mentioned so many different options that it began to sound like an all-you-can-eat buffet.

“I want to please everyone there,” he offered. “It’s not just for me, it’s for all the past champions and everybody, and I want everyone to have a great time.”

So, this one time, maybe Patrick Reed can please everyone.

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