Patrick Reed celebrates with the trophy during the green jacket ceremony after winning the 2018 Masters. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
By Dave Shedloski
Patrick Reed is dreading this year’s Masters Tournament.
It’s not that he isn’t ready to defend his title. He feels like he is a better golfer than last year when he beat Rickie Fowler by a stroke for his first major title. He believes his mindset for the challenge is better. He believes he has better command of his swing and the shots he needs to hit. He certainly isn’t lacking for confidence, even though he hasn’t won a tournament since that magical performance last April.
It’s just that stepping foot on the emerald turf of Augusta National Golf Club means the green jacket that he has been permitted to keep with him has to ride shotgun. Unless you’re Gary Player, who famously told Masters chairman Clifford Roberts that he’d have to go to South Africa to retrieve the most prized wardrobe accent in golf, the champion, after his year of revelling in victory and showing off his green jacket anywhere he pleases, is restricted to wearing the coat on club grounds.
Of course, there is a way to fix that—win again. If Reed should be that resourceful, he would become just the fourth man to win back-to-back Masters, joining Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods.
While Reed has enjoyed plenty of memorable occasions wearing the green jacket, he confessed Monday during a conference call that, “my least favourite moment is going to be when I have to return the jacket and I’m not allowed to have it in my closet and wear it around the house and out at places.”
At that moment he’ll return to being just as green with envy as every other player in the field, which is an emotion he intends to use as if he never won last year.
“It’s definitely going to give me motivation to go out and try to repeat as well as try to win multiple [times],” Reed said during a conference call ahead of next month’s tournament, “because even the times I’m not actually wearing the green jacket, to be able to see the green jacket sitting in your closet or sitting in an area where you’re always kind of walking by and you’ll see it, it just gives you motivation and kind of picks me up and tells me that you want to keep it around. You want to keep it around as long as you can. The only way you’re going to do that is continue winning at Augusta and continue winning the event so you can have it year in and year out.”
Preparing for his sixth Masters start, the 28-year-old Texan isn’t yet trending as he did a year ago, when he posted a trio of top-10 finishes before winning at Augusta. Reed is coming off a tie for 47th at the Players and hasn’t finished in the top-10 since the WGC-HSBC Champions last October.
While he admitted that posting a few higher finishes would help, he’s not concerned about his form.
“Honestly, I feel like my mindset and state of mind that I’m in right now is better than it was last year at this point,” he said. “You know, I’ve hit golf shots and have done things on the golf course that I feel a little bit more comfortable this year doing than I did last year at this point, but I just need to go out and continue playing to put four rounds together. I’ve put myself in position and have put some solid rounds together, I just haven’t quite put four rounds out there at the same time yet. It’s either been two or three or three and a half. I just need to get all of them going. I feel like I’m really close.”
As for dreading his return and the defense of his title, that’s not entirely accurate. He anticipates a special few days before the shooting starts.
“The biggest thing is just I’m going to go in with, hopefully, the same kind of mindset that I had last year and really just take it all in stride,” Reed said. “You know, even though there’s going to be more going on this year than there was last year because last year I was able to kind of fly in under the radar at the beginning of the week. This year having all the extra activities, extra things going on, it’s going to be a lot of fun.
“I honestly can’t wait for the week to start and to be able to experience all of it,” he added, “because being the first major and being able to come back and experience what it’s like to be on the first tee as defending champion is going to be an awesome experience, and just can’t wait to cherish all the moments and just see what it’s like.”