One week ago today, I was rooting — like seemingly everyone watching the Masters — was rooting for a handful of players to.
Yes, even Tiger Woods.
Basically anybody. That is, anybody but Patrick Reed., the guy who would actually win.
It wasn’t just his arrogance or foul mouth. It just wasn’t the allegations of cheating in a college tournament or that some former teammates at Georgia believe he stole money from them. That was almost a decade ago.
All of that can be attributed to immaturity and, more importantly, is in the past.
What’s hard to accept is in the present, is estrangement from his parents Bill and Jeannette and sister Hannah.
Now, though, after a week of reflection, I’m kind of glad that he won. In fact, I’m rooting for him. I hope He wins the U.S. Open in June, and the British open in July, and the PGA championship in August.
But more than Patrick Reed the golfer, I’m rooting for Patrick Reed the man.
The brother. The son.
I’m rooting for redemption and for reconciliation, for forgiveness and for a happy ending.
Before he took command of the leaderboard at Augusta National, Reed wasn’t widely known except among the most avid golf fans. His personal story was less known even among them.
Now the world knows. Winning the Masters comes with a price, the price of fame, and the loss of privacy. His story, unfortunately, isn’t unique, or even rare. But it’s sad nonetheless.
As other players were rooted on by family members last Sunday, the Reeds were conspicuously absent, unwelcomed by their son and brother. His wife Justine was there, waiting for the triumphant embrace. Her brother is Reed’s caddy. The Reeds had to watch it on television, just three miles away at their home in Augusta.
The fact that there’s family conflict really isn’t news. Sport is just a cross-section of humanity. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been famously estranged from his family, including his younger brother Jordan, who played quarterback at Vanderbilt.
Many fans defend Reed because they can identify due to their own family issues. That’s exactly why I’m rooting for him reconcile.
Winning the Masters will change Reed’s life. He’s no longer going to work in relative anonymity. The galleries will be larger. The media requests will be more numerous. Even his fellow players will look at him differently.
Masters champions have their own fraternity. Here’s hoping that being among some of the game’s greats — Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson — grants some wisdom.
None of them are perfect. I suspect some of them have similar family issues that the public never knew about.
Nick Faldo was an unpopular Masters champion, even among his peers. He seemed to have mellowed somewhat during his stretch as one of the top players in the world. Likewise for Curtis Strange, who never won the Masters but did win the U.S. Open twice.
The Patrick Reed story to date has been bittersweet. He’s an incredible golfer to behold. It’s not just his shot-making ability, but his relentless drive and nerve under pressure. That’s why he could hold off the field in the final round despite never getting on one of his birdie rolls. Sunday was his only round without consecutive birdies. What he did do, though, was avoid falling apart. He followed all three of his bogeys with birdies — two on the follow hole and the other just two holes later.
Reed wasn’t always this way. His expectation of perfection overwhelmed his game. But he learned. He changed. Now he’s flourishing.
The Patrick Reed story is incomplete. He’s only 27 years old. He should have a lot of golf and life ahead of him. But the golf will run out before life does. He can learn. He can change. He can flourish.
I’m rooting for him. What a powerful story that would be.