Everybody hates Reed: From golf's pantomime villain to Masters champion

The Scoop

He's one of the least popular players on the professional circuit. But what is it, asks Alex Perry, that makes Patrick Reed so unlikeable?

A secret survey of PGA Tour players by ESPN a few years ago asked which fellow pro would you not help if you saw them in a fight. Patrick Reed was one of four players named by the 100 or so polled. Bubba Watson, Rory Sabbatini and Robert Allenby were the others.

Meanwhile, the Texan is consistently included in listicles with titles such as “the most hated sportsmen in the world”.

My own experience of Reed was at the 2015 Open at St Andrews, Reed was practising alone. No one, apart from his caddie, within 300 yards of him.

But why don’t we like Reed? Stick it out, it gets quite juicy. But first up…

His infamous top-five comment

“I have three wins on the PGA Tour – I truly believe that I am a top-five player in the world.”

Patrick Reed had just won the 2014 World Golf Championship at Doral and was giving his having his post-tournament interview.

A bit brash, perhaps. A bit overly confident. But there’s nothing wrong with either of those traits.

But then it took a strange turn.

“I don’t see a lot of guys that have done that besides Tiger Woods and the legends of the game. I believe in myself, especially with how hard I’ve worked. I’m one of the top-five players in the world. I feel like I’ve proven myself.”

Incidentally, that win moved Reed to 20th in the world. In the five years since, he has spent roughly 20 weeks inside the top 10, including a career-high 7th. His Masters victory moves him up to No. 12.

Of course he missed five of his next eight cuts as this extraordinary interview came back to immediately bite him square on the cheeks.

He’s made a good career for himself since then, winning twice more on the PGA Tour and playing in two Ryder Cups.

Speaking of which…

His Ryder Cup antics

Reed was the USA’s shining light in Europe’s crushing Ryder Cup victory at Gleneagles, delivering three and a half points for his team.

But he quickly found himself unpopular with the rowdy home crowd, turning to them with his finger to his lips every time a putt dropped.

All good fun and more pantomime villain than genuine hatred, but word on the street is that Reed was so unpopular thanks to his shushing antics that he needed a police escort out of the Scottish resort.

Two years later his finger-wagging exploits were back as he edged out Rory McIlroy in one of the most exhilarating singles matches in recent memory.

His sharp tongue

Reed’s potty mouth has got him in trouble on a number of occasions, the most controversial of which was when a homophobic slur – “Nice f***ing three-putt you f***ing f****t” – was picked up by TV coverage at the WGC-HSBC Champions.

I don’t think Reed needed it explaining to him why that was unacceptable, but even his apology came across with an air of him not understanding what the fuss was about.

At the other end of the scale there are the sly digs at fellow pros, particularly fans’ favourite Jordan Spieth. When he didn’t get a ruling in his favour at last month’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, he quipped to the official “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth.”

His questionable college career

Patrick Reed with NCAA Championship trophy

Perhaps an explanation as to why he isn’t well liked among his peers, Reed’s college career was littered with accusations and have been written about at length by the likes of Golf Digest contributor Shane Ryan.

Ryan suggests in his book, Slaying the Tiger: A Year Inside the Ropes on the New PGA Tour, that Reed was ousted from the University of Georgia for cheating during a qualifying round, recording incorrect scores in his favour, and stealing from teammates. (Cash and putters, if you’re interested.)

Despite a coach at UGA releasing a statement backing Ryan’s claims, Reed denied the claims and said he was kicked out for multiple arrests for being drunk and disorderly.

Reed then transferred to Augusta State, where his new teammates also suspected him of recording lower scores than he’d actually shot.

It is also rumoured that the ASU players, ahead of the NCAA Championship final, told Georgia rival Harris English that they hoped he would beat Reed. The title came down to that match, and Reed edged it 2&1.

Still, he had the last laugh

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