Reed's agenda for Augusta

Reed's agenda for Augusta


Reed's agenda for Augusta

The generation gap in golf has never been more pronounced, and not because the average age of the last three winners on the PGA Tour is 24.3 years.

Years from now we might look at the derring-do shown by 24-year-old Russell Henley at the recent Honda Classic and 23-year-old Patrick Reed at the World Golf Championships event last Sunday as the beginning of the brash brothers era on the PGA Tour.

Henley’s playoff victory at the Honda Classic was his second in 34 starts as a professional. Grouped in the final round with the former No 1 Rory McIlroy, Henley played as if he, and not McIlroy, had won two major championships. His victory came a week after fourth-ranked Jason Day, 26, defeated 23-year-old Victor Dubuisson in the World Golf Championships match-play final.

Reed has won three times in his last 14 starts, with all of his victories coming since Tiger Woods’ last title run.

“To see the young guys coming out and playing and putting it to the veterans is always nice,” said Reed, who pulled off a wire-to-wire victory against a field that included 49 of the top 50 golfers in the world.

Reed, who moved up to 20th in the rankings, displayed only slightly less bluster than the Doral host, the real estate mogul Donald Trump. He said he considered himself a top-five player. Rankings though, are mainly a matter of opinion.

Never mind that the world’s top three (Woods, Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson) and six of the top seven have not won in 2014, while Reed has won twice. His audacity did not sit well with the people in the sport who prefer their golf champions as polished as the trophies in their hands, company men quick to thank God and country — not their wife, sponsors and agents, as Reed did as if he were a stock-car driver in victory lane.

Any player worth his tour privileges ought to feel the same as Reed. But in golf, false modesty is prized as much as real talent. The gallery members and the announcers aren’t the only ones expected to speak in hushed, reverent tones.

In a sport in which gentility is next to godliness, brashness is a grave offence, punishable on social media. The reaction to Reed’s comments fell along generational lines, with the over-30 set quick to criticise and the under-30 set quick to compliment. John Peterson, 24, who turned pro in 2011, the same year as Reed, wrote on Twitter: “Dude speaks how he feels. People today could not have handled Muhammad Ali.”

Ali happens to be one of Reed’s favorite athletes. Michael Jordan, another athlete not known for his humility, is another.

Perhaps not surprisingly, one of Reed’s favourite players on the tour is Ian Poulter, who was quoted in 2008 saying, “Don’t get me wrong, I really respect every professional golfer, but I know I haven’t played to my full potential and when that happens, it will be just me and Tiger.”

Reed’s wife, Justine, said Poulter was particularly pleasant to Reed when they were grouped in a tournament last year. She said they would never forget how Poulter, despite his higher profile, treated Reed like an equal.

Patrick Reed came by his confidence the old-fashioned way: He earned it. In a sport as old-school as golf, that should earn him respect, not raspberries.“I’m a firm believer that if you’re not working hard, people are working hard and passing you, so you’d better work just as hard, if not harder, to keep up,” Reed said.

He added: “Look at Tiger; he doesn’t just go home and sit on the couch, that’s for sure. He works as hard as he can at home and puts in all the hours, and that’s why he has an ungodly amount of wins.”

Reed’s next event is the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando, but his next big test is the Masters, which is held not far from where he attended college, Augusta State. Playing in his first major, Reed will be shouldering weighty expectations. As befits the brash brothers era he is helping to usher in, Reed did not shy away from the expectations.

“To play against a field like that and go wire-to-wire and close it off at the end, it just shows that I have what it takes to play at the top level, as well as have what it takes to be one of the top players in the world, just like them,” Reed said.

His front-running victory, he added, “definitely just gives me confidence come Sunday that if I play how I’m supposed to at Augusta that we’ll be in the running.”