Friendly CompetitionMarch 11, 2020

Players 2020: Why Patrick Reed has never felt so much pressure to hit the 17th green at TPC Sawgrass

Kevin C. Cox

Patrick Reed insists hecklers outside the ropes at PGA Tour events don't bother him. But at this week's Players Championship, he's already worried about taking a little verbal abuse from someone inside the ropes.

On the eve of the PGA Tour's flagship event, caddies get their crack at TPC Sawgrass' famed 17th hole as part of the Players Caddie Challenge in honor of Bruce Edwards. And Reed's looper, Kessler Karain hit the island green for the first time since he's been on the job. Now the boss is feeling some extra pressure on the par 3.

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At Reed's pre-tournament press conference on Wednesday, he was asked if he was worried about dealing with rowdy fans, in particular on one of the most famous—and loud—holes in all of golf. Here was the 2018 Masters champ's response:

"I mean, no, not really. For me the biggest thing on 17, it was today -- Kessler, it's the first time he's actually hit the green. Normally he hits it in the water, so that means I cannot hit it in the water the next four days because if I do, if I hit in the water once, I won't hear the end of it until next year."

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If you're thinking, that's one bold employee, well, Kessler also happens to be Reed's brother-in-law. So yeah, he would definitely hear about it if he rinsed one.

How does Reed attack the hole in general? By not attacking the pin no matter where it is positioned on the island green.

"So I just got to go out there and I've always played that hole somewhat conservative, I've never really taken on too many of those flags," Reed said. "The front flag is obviously—you're trying to fly it past and kind of bring it back down to it. And back flag you're trying to hit to the middle of the green. That right flag being a drawer of the golf ball I don't ever really go for, so for me it's just kind of put the ball in the middle of the green and let my putter try to work."

Considering Reed currently ranks third on the PGA Tour in strokes gained putting, that sounds like a smart strategy. Both for trying to win the tournament and for trying to keep his brother-in-law from talking smack.

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