ORLANDO, Fla. – Patrick Reed, golf’s latest sensation, might be at the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week, but he has the April 10-13 Masters on his mind. That’s understandable. It will be his first major championship. He went to school in the same town at Augusta (Ga.) State. He has plenty of friends there. His parents have lived in Augusta for a few years.
And then there are his dreams. And we’re not just talking about the obvious one about slipping into a green jacket.
“It’s still a golf course I’d love to play barefoot, because there’s not a single thing misplaced on that entire golf course,” said the 23-year-old Reed, who played Augusta National three times while in college, always in soft, cold conditions. “It’s amazing.”
Barefoot? Bobby Jones, meet Happy Gilmore. Clifford Roberts, we didn’t realize you invited Tom Sawyer.
Pressed on whether he really wants to play at the golf mecca without shoes and socks, the winner of three of his last 14 PGA Tour starts didn’t back off.
“Oh, yeah,” a smiling Reed said Tuesday at Bay Hill. “Not while I’m preparing for the event or playing (in it). I’ve played nine holes at Pebble (Beach) barefoot, because I had such blisters at the Callaway (Pebble Beach Invitational) that I literally couldn’t wear my shoes. Hopefully I can use that excuse one time at Augusta when I’m playing for fun.”
Why stop fantasizing there? If Reed somehow reaches the Masters’ 72nd tee with a large lead, he should take off his shoes, toss them to fans in the gallery, drop his socks in a one of those green plastic garbage bags, play 18 barefooted and tell everybody, “Life’s a beach.”
And he if completes a Pebble-Augusta barefoot double, why stop there? Go through a list of top-ranked courses and knock out the entire top 10. I mean, that would even get more attention than his bold statement recently at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, where he said he felt like a world top-five player.
Though Reed’s shoeless-at-Augusta vision is different and entertaining, it’s hardly the best golf fantasy coming out of the head of a Tour player. That would belong to Johnny Miller, the Hall of Famer turned provocative broadcaster.
Miller’s mind journeyed far outside the box years ago when he served this up: Come to the final hole of a U.S. Open with a three-shot lead and lag a birdie putt to 6 inches from the hole. Then take out a 3-wood and blast the ball over the crowd, over the clubhouse and out of bounds.
Then, as everyone gasped and figured Miller had lost both his mind and the Open, he would drop 6 inches from the hole, tap in for double bogey and win by one.
Stirring things up, that’s Johnny Miller. But then it’s also Patrick Reed. They are nothing if not outspoken. Golf has known that about Miller for decades. Reed, though, just registered on the shock scale with the top-five business at Trump National Doral. His bold statements created a buzz over the past week that Reed found amusing.
“I thought it was pretty funny,” he said. “It was interesting to see how much of a stir that got up in the media.”
Not just media. Players, fans, everyone. But the ultra-confident Reed is hardly backing off.
“That’s what I believe,” said the second-year Tour player, now ranked No. 20. “That’s how I see myself as a player. You have to have that belief in yourself. If you don’t, then you’re not going to play like it and you’re definitely not going to be contending on Sundays.”
He says he believes he can get into the top five in the Official World Golf Ranking computer as well as inside his own head. And he took no offense when a British reporter said Reed has been christened in the United Kingdom as “America’s Ian Poulter.” (Long before he became a Ryder Cup hero, Poulter said that one day he would join Tiger Woods at the top, prompting Woods to playfully nickname Poulter “No. 2.”)
“It makes me feel good,” Reed said. “Ian Poulter is a great golfer. I love his personality, his outfits and what he’s done in the Ryder Cup and that determination and look he has. I mean, I think people have been calling him Angry Bird because his eyes were bulging out of his head when he made that (Ryder Cup) putt.”
Actually the eyeballs protruded when Poulter made several key putts at the last matches, but you get the idea.
As for Reed, it seems he has already pushed his Doral success to the back of his mind. Give his swing coach, Kevin Kirk, credit for that. When Reed showed up for a range session last Wednesday after a couple of post-victory days off, Kirk was looking ahead, not behind.
“He said, ‘What did you do poorly at (Doral?’ ” Reed said. “It wasn’t, ‘What did you do well?’ Those aren’t the things you work on. What you did poorly is what you need to fix. That was the thing that grabbed my attention – (it was) you won the event, now it’s time to move on.”
And maybe take your shoes and socks off.