If you have an opinion about Patrick Reed, it was likely shaped in large part by that now-infamous interview he did after winning the Cadillac Championship in 2014. Reed called himself a top-five golfer in the world that day, and the moniker (and ridicule from it) has never left him.
There might not be another player in American golf whose identity rests so heavily on a single comment after a single tournament. That’s what happens, though, when you win just one time since that tournament (in 2015 at the Tournament of Champions).
Reed doesn’t much think about the comment anymore, but his play at the end of this summer tells me he’s bent on trying to re-shape the narrative that has so often been written about him. Reed is a winner, not just a talker, and he wants you to know it.
Reed took The Barclays on Sunday at Bethpage Black in the PGA Tour’s first FedEx Cup Playoff event, winning by a single stroke over Emiliano Grillo and Sean O’Haire. The course played like a U.S. Open (which is why the winning score of 9 under was so low), and Reed fought like it was a major championship.
“Really tough,” said Grillo. “It’s very demanding from tee to green. You can make a lot of putts out here, and that’s where you need to attack. When you have a chance, you have to got to take advantage of it. It’s a U.S. Open golf course. It wasn’t a U.S. Open but it was almost like one.”
Reed’s reward for winning this faux U.S. Open is a move to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings, a likely berth in the Tour Championship, $1.5 million and a guaranteed slot in the Ryder Cup.
“I worked pretty hard with my coach this past couple weeks, and the game obviously shows that I’m moving in the right direction,” said Reed. “To finish off on the last, it’s just amazing. It feels amazing. I haven’t had that feeling in a while coming down the last couple. With having a lead, I felt like I did a lot of things well. Unfortunately I didn’t quite make the scores I wanted to down the last but it was enough to get the job done.
“It was a huge goal of ours to get back because, in our first Ryder Cup, we played so well and unfortunately the Cup didn’t come back with us,” said Reed. “It’s sweet revenge and hopefully our team gets fired up and go out and keep that Cup home.”
It was quite a haul for one week’s worth of work from Reed. But this had been building for quite a while. Reed, who shot a tough-as-nails 70 on Sunday for the win, finished in the top 13 in four of his last five events coming into this week including the PGA Championship, Open Championship and Olympics. This week was not a surprise if you’ve been paying attention.
So now Reed has an opportunity to redefine his image. To some, he will always (wrongly) be seen as the cocky youngster who promised the world at Doral in 2014 and hasn’t delivered (he still doesn’t have a top-10 finish at a major). To others, he is the still-growing superstar who can legitimately win the FedEx Cup this year and bring Ryder Cup glory back to American soil.
Sunday was a big step in that direction. Only time will tell of course what the legacy of Reed will be, but it’s hard to imagine someone so good and so confident in his own ability not going on to even greater, more high-profile wins. Reed’s performance on Sunday at Bethpage was impressive, but his future looms even larger. Grade: A+
Here are the rest of our grades for The Barclays.
Jordan Spieth: Spieth came undone with a double on the 17th hole on Saturday to fall way back of the lead. It has felt like he was going to break out this year about 20 times, and it just hasn’t happened yet. This week it was because of the putter and his play around the green (both of which were outside the top 30 in the field). He finished T10, but Spieth is not interested in T10 finishes. Grade: B+
Rory McIlroy: New week, new putter, same story for McIlroy. The Ulsterman finished No. 77 in the field in putting and No. 6 from tee to green. It all led to a T31 finish overall. I’m not sure how this changes, but something has to shift for him to start winning golf tournaments. His swing is historically great, and he’s wasting opportunities in his prime because he can’t find the bottom of the cup. Grade: C+
Rory McIlroy missed 5 putts inside 5 feet this week.
Tiger missed 2 putts inside 5 feet in the entire 2006 season.
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) August 28, 2016
Rickie Fowler: Fowler had a double ejection from this event at the end. He was the 54-hole leader and primed to make it inside the automatic eight qualifiers for the Ryder Cup. A 39 on the back nine led to a T7 finish, and he fell outside that final eight. He will almost certainly be picked for Hazeltine, but three bogeys and a double coming home was pretty egregious. Grade: B+
Adam Scott: Scott finished T4, but it should have been a lot better. His putting was hideous. This stat sums up his entire week but also his career. Grade: A-
Summing up Adam Scott’s week…
Strokes gained: tee-to-green: +14.686 (1st in field)
Strokes gained: putting: -4.816 (76th)
— Jonathan Wall (@jonathanrwall) August 28, 2016
Phil Mickelson: The best thing Mickelson, who finished T13, did all week was comment on how Justin Rose put on his gold medal to make a putt on the final hole. “You have to do it,” Mickelson said of the move. “What’s the whole point of winning the gold medal? You’ve got to flaunt it, right? I have three [green jackets]. But it’s a little hot out here. But I’m not allowed to travel with it.” Grade: B
Jason Day: Day once again battled adversity (this time, fatigue) to finish in the top five of a big time event. The New York faithful appreciated him for it. “I love playing in front of the New York crowds,” said Day who finished T4. “It’s really cool to see how much they embrace the golf here. They really do enjoy themselves here, very rowdy. A lot of things have been said out there over the last four days, but it’s pretty special when you go up on the green and you get a nice ovation like that.” Grade: A
Source: CBS Sports / Grades: Patrick Reed’s win at The Barclays can jump-start a new identity