Patrick Reed is not quietly confident, he’s just confident
All that was missing from Patrick Reed’s post-tournament interview Sunday, was the WWE Heavyweight Championship belt slung over his shoulder, and a strategically placed opponent writhing in pain in the background.
Reed’s impressive triumph at the WGC-Cadillac Championship was capped off with a veritable verbal rampage that was far more Hulk Hogan than Ben Hogan: a grandiloquent cherry on top of a sweet and well-earned Sunday sundae.
The newly minted youngest champion in WGC history had ripped through the best PGA field assembled this year to his third professional win and second of this young season. The man is on a roll. He is the only player on the planet to pull off the hat trick of playing his way into the top-20 of the world rankings, finishing in the top-20 of last season’s money list, and winning three events since the start of 2013.
Reed’s early career success is a case that, to some extent, makes itself. But in the event people hadn’t noticed his dizzying ascent, he confidently and matter-of-factly spread the gospel of Patrick to the national television audience moments after sinking his tournament-clinching putt on 18.
The 23-year-old Reed was asked about comments he made Sunday, expressing his belief that he is amongst the top five players in the world.
"I’ve worked so hard," the Reed soliloquy began. "I won a lot in my junior career. I did great in my amateur career. I went 6-0 in match play in NCAAs, we won NCAAs (at Augusta State) two years in a row. … Now, I have three wins on the PGA Tour. I just don’t see a lot of guys who’ve done that, besides Tiger and the other legends of the game. I believe in myself. I feel like I’m one of the top five players in the world. I feel like I’ve proven myself."
Whoa! Echoes of Bobby Jones, right?
The comments spit in the face of the established and accepted norm in golf. But take a look around. What outdated, unwritten rules from so many years past remain pristine and untarnished? You don’t have to stop tweeting and look at the world through your Google Glasses to see things are changing faster than anybody can quantify.
Given the evolving nature of communication, who says a little smack talk backed up by performance has no place in golf?
Even the most gentlemanly of golf’s old guard can see some beauty in the beast of Reed’s self aggrandizing answer. Through his media liaison, I asked Gary Player about the comments. "Frankly, I quite liked Patrick Reed’s candor, his self-belief and obvious confidence," the legendary Player responded. "To me it’s not really whether he is Top 5, but rather that he thinks and believes he is. You cannot be a champion if you don’t believe totally in yourself and your ability," he added.
Doral was a place for Patrick Reed to celebrate. You’ll have to forgive the premature anointing of his own greatness as he joined just four others who have won three tour events by age 23. It probably didn’t help derail his myopic big-picture perspective that the dream foursome he joins is made up of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia.
Reed says he didn’t even realize his comments made a stir until the day after the tournament. He insists he has no regrets about the interview, but with the benefit of retrospect said Wednesday, "I believe if I keep playing the way I’ve been playing and putting in the hard work then I will become a top-5 player in the world. That’s my next goal and I believe I can be a top-5 player."
He came into this season with the goal of cracking the top-25 in the world rankings by the end of the year. After his recent victory, he checks in at #20. That goal, naturally, has been tweaked. "Now I’m looking for the top-10 or the top-5."
Remember — it’s March. The Masters is still a month away, Tiger’s back has compromised an already teetering game, Phil is floundering, and Sergio, Rory and Adam Scott finished a combined 14 over par at Doral. This sport desperately needs a story, and right now, Patrick Reed is it.
Time to choose your Hogan. I’ll take Hulk. You’ve got Ben. Best 2 out of 3 falls. May the boldest man win.