Former University High standout Patrick Reed played in the final grouping of a PGA Tournament for the first time on Saturday at the Travelers Championship and ran into quite a challenge at the TPC River Highlands. His driver and iron-play were inconsistent, and he only hit nine greens in regulation. His subsequent 3-over par 73 dropped him from a tie for second and two back to a tie for 19th place at 5-under, five strokes back of leaders Bubba Watson, Charley Hoffman, and Graeme DeLeat at 10-under going into the final round.
Reed felt as though playing with the precocious Watson in the marquee pairing didn’t seem any different than a normal round on Tour.
“It didn’t feel any different today than any other round,” Reed said. “It was just a later tee time.
“Bubba’s just a normal guy,” Reed said. “I didn’t see him as a guy that made me nervous. He is just another good ol’ player. The only difference is that he hits the ball a mile and a half, with a pink driver.”
Reed feels he has come a long way since Monday-qualified at this event last year, especially in that he didn’t let this round spiral too much out of control when things weren’t going well.
“If I was as frustrated last year and had a really rough day out here I probably would have shot 76 or 77,” Reed said. “I was able to pull out a 73, so I’ve improved a lot from last year and that’s all I can ask is to keep moving forward that way.”
Reed’s wife and caddie Justine had to try and keep him in a ‘bigger picture’ mentality when the challenges got tough on Saturday.
“One thing that’s key is to keep things in perspective,” Justine said. “He played two really good rounds (Thursday and Friday), he’s played great this week, so we have that to back us up. Anytime he gets discouraged or anything, you can’t give up.”
After going bogey-free through his first four holes on Saturday his second shot onto the fifth green landed short of the pin and rolled through the green to the back rough, leading to what would be his first bogey of five in a 10-hole stretch.
Justine’s perspective as his caddie was that even with that stretch there was still more golf to go.
“If he has a couple bad shots you can’t just say ‘that’s it’,” Justine said. “Because we still have nine holes to play. Just keep on, I just try to help him as much as I can and don’t let him give up, and we’ll see what happens.”
That philosophy worked well on the 18th hole. After Reed felt he played the hole well on Friday and ended up walking away with a bogey, he said the closing hole owed him a shot. He subsequently stuck his approach from the right rough to five feet, burying his birdie to at least finish on a high note.
“If I have a special round (Sunday), you never know,” Reed said. “I have a chance to win, but I’d also need a little help from the top guys. You never know.”
Team Reed is still only five shots back of the lead at a tournament where just last year Australian Marc Leishman came from six back on Sunday to win with a closing 8-under 62.
“I think he handled everything really well,” Justine said. “I’m proud of him.”
Today we’ll see how Team Reed handles the pressure yet again.