Rude: Reed indeed headed toward top 5

Patrick Reed after the third win of his PGA Tour career, the 2014 WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral.

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Jeff Rude’s “Hate To Be Rude” column appears on Golfweek.com on Wednesday.

Patrick Reed says he feels like he’s a top-5 player in the world. Do I believe it?

Well, I believe he does and should feel that way – given he has won three PGA Tour titles in 14 starts since mid-August and a given a golfer’s need for self belief.

But is he, at this point? No, because he hasn’t played in a major championship yet, much less won one.

That said, I think he’ll get into the top 5, maybe even quickly, given his confidence, complete game and closer’s mentality. The 23-year-old handles the driver, wedge, putter and pressure so well, it should surprise no one if he gets all the way to the top.

At the moment, Reed is 20th, up from 584th at the end of 2012. The current top 5 are Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jason Day and Phil Mickelson.

But it’s a different story if we’re doing a Hot Index covering the last few months. Because Woods and Mickelson aren’t at their best right now, my top-5 Hot Index would have the names Scott, Day, Bubba Watson, Zach Johnson and Harris English, with Reed, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson in the conversation.

• All you need to know about Reed’s cocksure nature is that for years he has worn a red shirt on Sunday because Tiger Woods does. That takes, well, serious gumption.

• After he won the WGC-Cadillac Championship on Sunday, Reed was asked if he watched Jean Van de Velde make a triple bogey and blow a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole of the 1999 Open Championship.

“I did,” said Reed, who was two shots ahead with a hole left at Trump National Doral. “That’s also why I hit an iron off that (18th) tee.”

• Perhaps they should have used floater balls at difficult, redesigned Trump National Doral. Remarkably, there were 318 balls hit into water at the Cadillac Championship by the 68-man field. The previous most there was 220, by a full field in 2004.

So if someone fished all those new premium balls from last week out of the ponds and resold them for $4 apiece, he or she would make $1,272. Actually, the income would be higher because the six Woods balls and the several rinsed by Rory McIlroy would fetch more.

• What do all those water balls mean? That Trump’s version of Doral needs a few tweaks. Many of those balls were on greens before rolling off and getting wet.

• Trivia question: Who is the only player older than 50 ranked in the top 50 in the world? (Answer below.)

• So far the 2013-14 season is tracking toward the Year of the Kid. Nine of the 14 winners have been younger than 30, and Reed has won twice.

• Woods doesn’t just have a back problem; he has a Sunday issue. In his last 18 PGA Tour starts, he broke 70 just twice in a final round.

That trend curiously pertains to his play in major championships the past two years. He is 28 over par in his last 16 rounds on major weekends. By stark contrast, he had only five over-par rounds in his 14 major victories, covering 56 rounds.

• More and more Masters odds seem to be popping up, and the most intriguing/appetizing to this observer is Bubba Watson at 25-1. The 2012 Masters champion hasn’t finished worse than second in his last three Tour stroke-play starts.

This is the same Watson who had only three top 10s in the 2013 season. One big reason for his improvement is putting. He ranked 119th in 2013 in strokes gained-putting and is 26th so far this season.

• Trivia answer: Miguel Angel Jimenez. The Spaniard will play in the Masters and then make his Champions Tour debut the next week at the Greater Gwinnett Championship in Duluth, Ga.

• After a frustrated Hideki Matsuyama buried his putter into the 13th green Friday at Doral, Ian Poulter criticized the 22-year-old Japanese player’s etiquette breach via Twitter, calling him an “idiot” and the actions “disgusting.”

Poulter, of course, would have been more professional had he talked directly with Matsuyama about the situation, rather than telling the world through social media.

This merely is the latest case of communication being expressed through the wrong channel. Some people text when they should email, email when they should call and call when they should talk face to face. I’m thinking most people would like to hear directly from an offended party about a problem rather than read it on Twitter.

• Caddie Steve Williams says he and former boss Tiger Woods haven’t “buried the hatchet.” Funny, I thought they buried it in each other.

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