News & Opinion

Mental game gives Reed winning edge

The key to victory for Patrick Reed was that he kept his mind focused during Sunday’s final round of the Masters.

So many competitors were posting low scores ahead of him. Jordan Spieth, who started the day nine strokes back, briefly pulled even before making bogey on the final hole for an 8-under 64. Paul Casey was 9 under through 15 holes – was a 59 really even a remote possibility during the final round of the Masters? – before he bogeyed the final two holes.

For Reed, playing in the 2:40 p.m. final group with Rory McIlroy, he knew that the best golfers in the world were making a run at him. It would have been easy for his mind to race. After struggling with a bogey on the first hole and then watching McIlroy stuff his second shot to 4 feet on the par-5 second hole, Reed could have been saddled with doubt.

Reed kept his wits about him, even as Spieth and Rickie Fowler were holing birdie putts and closing the gap. Fowler, the eventual runner-up, played the final 11 holes in 6 under. Reed’s response? 

He tapped the sort of intangibles that all great champions possess: a superior mind game. We have seen Reed display his mental fortitude in Ryder Cup match play. In 2014, after he won a WGC title at Doral for only his third title on the PGA Tour, Reed proclaimed himself as one of the top 5 golfers in the world. Never mind that the Official World Golf Ranking had him nowhere near that lofty perch. Whether he was or wasn't, whether he is or isn't, he has to think it before he can be it. He has to believe it.

Those top-5 players all have mental strength. Look at Reed’s final round: He made bogey at No. 11, the beginning of Amen Corner, to drop to 1 over for the day and give the challengers ahead of him an opening. He responded with a birdie at the par-3 12th. All along, it appeared as if 15 under would be in a playoff and 16 under, if somebody could get there, would be the outright winner. I had no doubt that Reed would get to 15 under – he did with a birdie at the par-4 14th. The question was whether anybody else could get to 15 under and test him. 

Reed won the green jacket with a major-championship mental game.

Reed already had shown golf fans that he can hit shots under the gun. He didn’t get the nickname “Captain America” and compile a 6-1-2 record in two Ryder Cups, often pairing with Spieth, without a steady all-around game.

This won’t be the only major championship that Reed will win. He has the complete game, starting as a wonderful driver of the ball. He possesses a phenomenal wedge game and solid putting stroke. Any time he found trouble, he recovered with his wedge game. In fact, the wedge that he hit for his third shot after having driven into trouble on the par-4 11th, although he failed to convert the putt, was as good of a wedge as he had hit all week.

Champions know how to scramble and show strong determination.

So, what lies ahead for Patrick Reed? To me, it is a matter of what he thinks he might be capable of achieving in the game. I think Patrick Reed will be a multiple major champion. 

Michael Breed, a PGA of America member and instructor, operates the Michael Breed Golf Academy at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in Bronx, N.Y. He is the former host of “The Golf Fix” on Golf Channel and now hosts “A New Breed of Golf” on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET Monday-Friday.