AUGUSTA, Georgia — There is a serene perfection to Augusta National Golf Club and to the Masters tournament that it hosts—and which the sport adores—that is both beautiful and distant. There is no running, there is no litter and there are no cell phones. It is a place that bows forever to a worshipful past, whose former champions are manifestly, if not always accurately, remembered as Capital-G Gentlemen of dignity and honor, their green jackets hung for all eternity, as if they are vestments. There is no room for quasi-moral ambiguity at Augusta, except when the scoreboard demands it. On Sunday evening, the scoreboard demanded it.
It was a day when cool, gentle winds wafted across the ground, reminiscent of autumn football weather someplace far to the north, but which was reserved for round four of the first major of 2018. It was a day when three potential champions struck from Masters central casting, each with rich narratives and backstories ready-made for enshrinement at Augusta, threw themselves at history. It was a day when Patrick Reed, a brilliant player with a past that makes a sometimes stuffy, country club sport uncomfortable, repelled them all and won the Masters. He is 27 years old, and now he owns his first green jacket, his first major championship and a fresh start at gaining the embrace of his game. …
There is nobody in the wide world of golf who questions Reed’s talent and genius on a golf course. There are other parts of his curriculum vitae that make the barons of golf cringe (and not undeservedly). Much of Reed’s past was minutely cataloged in a 2015 Sports Illustrated story by Alan Shipnuck. The short list: A Texan by birth, Reed was kicked off the golf team at the University of Georgia in 2010. Shipnuck wrote, “An arrest for underage drinking and possession of a fake I.D. hastened his departure.” (He later played for Augusta State, here in town, on two NCAA championship teams). After a 2013 playoff win over Spieth, he called himself “a top-five player” in the world, which many viewed as too cocky. In November of 2014, he expressed anger at himself by shouting a homophobic word that was caught by a live microphone. And he is also estranged from his parents and sister, and, according to Shipnuck’s story, they were not invited to Reed’s wedding in 2012 and were escorted from the grounds of Augusta during Reed’s debut Masters in 2013, at the request of Reed’s wife, Justine.
It is a somewhat messy résumé, although hardly felonious. After yesterday’s win Reed was asked whether he regretted the top-five comment.
“Well, I mean, honestly,” said Reed. “I don’t ever regret anything I really say.” (And let’s be honest: He just won the Masters). He was asked, at the press conference, by Shipnuck, if it was bittersweet to not share his Masters win with his parents and sister. He responded, poker-faced: “I mean, I’m just out here to play golf and try to win golf tournaments.”