- The Washington Times - Monday, June 23, 2014

Patrick Reed seemed to be on the verge of a special season just three months ago.

The 23-year-old, in only his second full season on the PGA Tour, shot 4-under par at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in March to win his second tournament in seven starts. Brimming with confidence and entrenched in the moment, Reed proclaimed himself “one of the top five players in the world” in a televised post-round interview — a claim that, while embellished, had merit.

Yet the following weeks haven’t been so kind for Reed, who has missed the cut five times in his last seven appearances, dating back to the Masters in mid-April. This week, he arrives at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, for the Quicken Loans National hoping to put together a strong weekend, knowing his worries of the past are behind him.

“I wasn’t even focused on golf, really, so I was just kind of out there and on auto-pilot,” Reed said Monday. “Now, the game’s good. My mind is exactly where it needs to be.”

Reed’s primary concern lately has been the birth of his daughter, Windsor Wells, who was born on May 22. The preparation for that date — he and his wife, Justine, expected a Memorial Day delivery — weighed on Reed’s mind, clouding his game in the few tournaments he did enter.

After missing the cut at The Players Championship on May 9, Reed took the following three weeks off, returning for the St. Jude Classic in Memphis the first weekend in June.

He finished 8-over to tie for 35th at the U.S. Open two weeks ago, then was betrayed by his short game last weekend, shooting a mere 70 and 71 in the first two rounds of the Travelers Championship on one of the tour’s shortest and easiest courses to again miss the cut.

“I just have to get out of my own way,” Reed said. “That’s the thing — I’m getting in my own way because I’m trying to dissect everything so much that I’m getting away from being able to play golf like I used to.”

Justine, a former high school golfer, had been her husband’s caddy since he turned professional in 2011, meaning the two spent every week together not just on the road, but on the course as well. Because of her pregnancy, Justine was unable to fulfill her caddying duties for the last six months, handing that privilege to her brother, Kessler Karain.

With Windsor Wells now a month old, “Team Reed,” as Patrick refers to his family, is back on the road, though their presence last weekend wasn’t enough to get Reed near the top of the leaderboard.

On Friday alone, he missed six putts from within 15 feet, including a heartbreaker on No. 18 that could have salvaged an awful drive with a bogey. Instead, his two-stroke advantage on the day was wiped away by the double bogey, and he bogeyed three of his next five holes, including the par-3, 223-yard fifth, to wrap up his first two rounds with a 1-over-par 141.

The cut was one under par.

“One bad swing and a lot missed putts, and instead of shooting even par, like I did on that side, I easily could have shot three, four, five under par,” Reed said. “It’s just those kinds of things. I know what I need to do. I just need to go out and do it.”

It was because of Reed’s short game that he won his first tournament of the year — the Humana Challenge in January, when he shot a 63 in three consecutive rounds and sealed his victory on Sunday with an 18-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole.

At the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National in Doral, Florida, Reed birdied three of his first four holes in his final round, holding on despite a surge by Jamie Donaldson and Bubba Watson on the back nine.

“A lot of confidence, and that’s really what it is,” Watson said of Reed after the final round. “It takes a lot of confidence. You see that with a lot of guys, when you have confidence. He’s backing it up with his game.”

For his part, Reed hasn’t lost his focus. He spent roughly 90 minutes on Monday working on his putting and chipping before a brief trip to the driving range and a stroll along the back nine.

Driving, Reed said, was among his strengths last weekend, which should translate in his favor to Congressional’s par-71, 7,574-yard Blue Course.

“I’m hitting the ball well, and that’s what you need to do here,” Reed said. “The thing is, I just need to make sure I spend enough time on the putting green and get comfortable enough to where I can go out and make a lot of putts and perform.”

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