Players 2020: Patrick Reed shrugs off hecklers, but the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass looms
PONTE VEDRA BEACH — Patrick Reed walked into the interview room at TPC Sawgrass on Wednesday dressed in all black, a fitting motif given the polarizing if not villainous reputation that the 29-year-old has taken on in the eyes of many, particularly in the wake of his most recent of controversies, Bahamas Bunkergate at the Hero World Challenge in December.
Like a dark cloud, the incident has followed him around the globe, from Melbourne to Maui and points in between. Just about every time Reed has teed it up, he has been heckled in some capacity. This week’s Players Championship, with its boisterous and infamous 17th hole, figures to be no exception.
Not that it seems to faze Reed much. Asked if the heckling has bothered him at all, he replied matter-of-factly, “No.” He offered the same response when asked about TPC Sawgrass’ most recognizable hole.
“I think the PGA Tour has done a great job on the security and the fans,” Reed said. “As a whole, the fans have been pretty good. You're always going to get a couple people here and there that are going to say something. That's normal, any sport you play.
“For me, when I get behind the ropes and I get inside those ropes I have a job to do and that's go out and play good golf and to have a chance to win on Sundays and to provide for my family and to go out and represent myself the best way I can, and I feel like I've been doing that.”
On the first point, Reed and the tour have had multiple conversations regarding said heckling and both parties have come away happy. On the latter, there is little argument over his play.
The all black getup is the same one Reed wore during the final round of his triumph at last month’s WGC-Mexico Championship, where he began that week getting torched by Brooks Koepka and Peter Kostis and ended it with the eighth victory of his career. To put that number in perspective, that’s more wins than Koepka, Padraig Harrington, Webb Simpson, Henrik Stenson, Bryson DeChambeau and Rickie Fowler.
Since Reed’s dustup at the Hero World Challenge, he has four finishes in the top six in eight starts, not including a key singles victory for the Americans at the Presidents Cup a day after his caddie was banned from being on Reed’s bag following an altercation with a fan.
And this week, Reed also has a chance to finally become a top five player in the world, officially.
“Winning always helps everything,” Reed said. "But really at the end of the day the noise goes away once [the media] decide it goes away at the end of the day. I feel like the players and all of us have moved on, but at the end of the day all we can do is go out and continue playing good golf and doing what we're supposed to do.”
To Reed’s point, he and Koepka haven’t spoken since the former world No. 1 and four-time major winner said that he thought Reed cheated in the Bahamas and called him out for “building sand castles” in a waste bunker during the third round when Reed was penalized two strokes for improving his line of play after twice sweeping sand away from behind his ball on the par-5 11th hole at Albany.
Don’t count on that changing anytime soon, and that’s just fine with Reed, too. He carries on unimpeded.
“Last week he played in the same event and I don't think I saw him once last week,” Reed said.
In part that was because they were on opposite ends of the draw the first two rounds at Bay Hill. They also had vastly different weeks, with Reed tying for 15th, while Koepka continued with his early-season struggles since returning from a knee injury, tying for 47th after a third-round in which he shot 81.
Even when it comes to the oddsmakers, Reed doesn’t seem bothered. He was a long shot to win the 2018 Masters and this week he’s 35-1, facts he found amusing.
Said Reed: “I like my odds then.”