Tierney: Patrick Reed’s Masters Win Was A Great Story – And One Golf Needed

Reed hasn’t always been loved (or liked), Brandon Tierney says, but he plays with attitude – and by his own set of rules

Brandon Tierney
April 09, 2018 - 2:37 pm

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I know, I know . . . you're still a bit bummed Tiger Woods wasn't prominently featured on your TV screen this weekend. Instead, Woods was simply one of many names and faces to blend into yet another tournament. Nothing special. No roars, no explosive pockets of adulation. Just a series of what-ifs. Errant tee shots, sloppy distance control and a small army of putts burning the edge. Like so many others on one of the most unforgiving golf courses and stages ever created, he was slightly above average, at best. 

Enter Patrick Reed, who, on most levels, is the complete antithesis of what golf has historically represented: manners, grace and poise. Reed comes across more like the overachieving and undersized high school linebacker determined to make every tackle. An isolated figure always willing to mix it up. Supremely confident. Distant. 

At first glance, his physical measurables scream Division III, yet, he carries himself like a D1 stud. To further the high school analogy, imagine a group of parents in the stands questioning his sportsmanship and rolling their eyes. Except he's not overachieving, but rather, precisely where he was born to be: in the winner's circle, and he's going to be here often. 

Sure, Tiger winning would have tilted the sporting world off of its axis. Charging down the back nine on Sunday, on the prowl and in the hunt?  Next level times a million. There would have been a familiar, palpable buzz amongst the patrons if, say, Phil Mickelson slipped on another green jacket. Or Spieth's comeback held up, or Rory, rather than melting, lit up the board with a 64 or 65. 

So while some lament what could have been, rather than looking deep within the pine needles for a "better" story, embrace the one we were given, because quite frankly, it's one the golf world desperately needed. A deeply flawed, borderline tragic and often brooding figure cracking the big-boy table at the fanciest dinner of the year. 

The roots of the game stand alone and are forever embedded with proper decorum, and it will always be a "gentleman's game." This we know. Yet, it's the "wild cards" and "firecrackers" that add necessary flair and attitude to a sport that needs as much of the special sauce as humanly possible to keep mainstream sports fans engaged. 

Robots don't sell on tour, unless you're seemingly robotic to the point of a young Woods. That's interesting, of course. But seeing 30 guys shoot 69 with little theater? Not really. Even for devout golf fans.

You know what does sell? Balls. Unpredictability. Edge. 

You see, Patrick Reed isn't from the conventional golf factory, one that pumps out repeatable swings, with zombie-like precision. He didn't drop off the same conveyor belt that so many of his peers did. He took the long road to the top, a road that must have seemed very, very lonely during his most private moments. And quite frankly, according to everyone that was within shouting distance of those early days, a road made exponentially more challenging by Reed himself.

Patrick Reed was a golfing superstar from a very early age; that, he does share in common with his peers. But his penchant for self-destruction pushed the boundaries to limits that cannot be ignored, even for transcendent talents. His stint at the University of Georgia proves just that, bounced from the team for multiple transgressions, but even more alarming, drawing true disdain from his teammates. He was despised. 

Not misunderstood. 

Despised. 

Enter Augusta State, set in the footprints of Augusta National, yet, by comparison, must have felt like a run down muni. Reed, of course, tested the limits there, too. It's who he is. Or was? Challenging authority, ignoring rules and creating a schism between his new teammates just like he did at his previous stop. It's how he rolls. 

You know where his parents watched his entrance into the record books? At their home, in Augusta, roughly four miles from the pristine piece of land Reed was carving out his chunk of immortality. 

They haven't spoken in years, and based on Reed's icy response to a post-round question regarding his family dynamic, the possibility of a cordial thawing seems highly implausible anytime soon. Sad.

However, check out the trophy case at the tiny college, and two items jump out: a pair of Division 1 National Championships. They were also accomplished in back-to-back fashion, with the second one coming, ready for this...at the expense of his former school, Georgia.

Think of it this way: imagine Sister Jean and the Loyola Ramblers winning two consecutive national titles. That's how great Reed was and just how unlikely the accomplishment truly was. Or in the mid-2000s, George Mason punctuating their riveting run to the Final Four with two titles. Imagine that?

Reed actually did it. 

I chuckle when I hear some American golf fans critique his on-course decorum and baggage. Hey, we could easily show up to the Ryder Cup with a roster of passionless zombies and get our ass kicked like we did for decades. Or, we can continue to strut in with someone like Patrick Reed, proudly wearing our colors, playing by a different set of rules and instead, being the ones delivering the ass-kicking, like we did in '16 at Hazeltine. 

Patrick Reed is different, and Patrick Reed isn't going away anytime soon.

And that's a great, great thing. 

Until it isn't. 

Brandon Tierney co-hosts "Tiki and Tierney" with Tiki Barber weekdays from 3-6 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Radio.