I’m just going to say it: Patrick Reed is kind of a jerk. He’s a fan-shushing, lie-improving, trash-talking goober who can’t seem to stay out of golf headlines thanks to his antics.
And…I’m here for it.
Let me explain. I don’t actually care for Patrick Reed, either as a player or as a personality. I’ve got my list of favorites and he isn’t even in the top 50. However, his unlikability is amplified by the fact that he can actually play a mean round of golf. He continues to annoy us because, at the end of the day, that little diva has talked the talk AND walked the walk all the way to eight PGA Tour wins, including a green jacket. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is just as infuriating as it is necessary in today’s modern world of professional golf.
Like any sport, the game of golf is so much more fun to watch when there’s a healthy rivalry afoot. Tiger vs. Phil seems like the obvious example, but you’ve also got Sam Snead vs. Ben Hogan, the USA vs. Europe and a friendly three-way duel between Jack, Arnie and Gary. No matter which side you were/are on, these rivalries and others like them add a little extra excitement when tournaments come down to the wire.
But Patrick has found himself in a unique situation. In just nine short years, he’s found a way to alienate many fellow Tour players, scores of golf media, and countless golf fans who can’t stomach the way he acts at work. This isn’t a one-on-one rivalry: this is Patrick Reed against the entire world.
The friction he causes makes for better golf TV. It makes for quippier soundbites and more interesting post-round interviews. Everything he does, from wearing red on Sundays to sarcastically tweeting at the PGA about how bad his Tour-issued Red Sox seats were, makes the headlines worth reading. But it also makes him remarkably easy to hate.
Admittedly, Reed brings much of this on himself. After his now-infamous rules violation at the Hero World Challenge, he claimed that a faulty camera angle was to blame. Anyone who has seen the footage knows that’s unequivocally BS, Reed included. Instead of acknowledging a moment of weakness, he (literally) dug himself deeper into the sand.
His list of infractions is lengthy: when he cracked a sour-puss joke at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational after being denied free relief, saying “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys”; when he confidently (cockily?) stated after just three wins that he’s “a top-five player in the world”; the often-overlooked allegations of cheating and stealing in his college years; and many more. And keep in mind, none of that takes into consideration his personal life, which is reportedly wrought with family drama and ire from every direction.
All that said, his contribution to the golf world is unparalleled right now. He gives fans someone to root against — someone to pit against the gentlemen like Jordan Spieth and the heros like Tiger Woods. His tarnished, salty professional reputation serves to polish and sweeten the perception of those around him. He is the villain looking to steal the moment and the trophy. He’s the riffraff spitting on the decorum and civility expected from golf’s elite. He’s the bad guy in a field made up of seemingly perfect brand ambassadors.
That’s not to say Patrick is alone in his antihero ways. We have temper tantrums from Sergio Garcia. We have trash talk from Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau. Patrick Reed is just the best of the worst in terms of unsavory behavior and that earns him more airtime and more traction on social media.
In my opinion, golf needs characters like Reed. He injects a little venom into a sport that can sometimes come off as stuffy or outdated. I’m not saying you have to like him — I certainly don’t — but I think of him as an asset to the game instead of an unwelcome intruder. He’s prickly where others are suave, he’s loud where others are demure and he’s persistent in his mission to win…no matter what. Reed’s one of the few golfers not named Tiger Woods who incites a reaction from fans immediately. He’s basically a game-winning, buzzer-beating three-point shot in a field full of routine free throws. And the PGA Tour is better for it.
I fully encourage you to disagree with me. It’s what Patrick would want.