AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The last time Patrick Reed barreled into the hometown of the Masters and created a new-sheriff-in-Dodge kind of stir, the welcoming committee was not so welcoming. In the weeks after his arrival nearly five years ago, his teammates at Augusta State could hardly stand him, and his coach could not fathom a day when this transfer from the University of Georgia would be worth the trouble he was causing, times 10.
Josh Gregory suspended Reed for the first two events of the 2009-10 season for violations of team rules he'd prefer to remain unspecified. The Georgia coach, Chris Haack, had warned his Augusta State counterpart that Reed was something of a wild colt that needed to be tamed, this after a series of issues -- including an arrest for underage drinking and possession of a fake ID -- made Reed a one-and-done Bulldog following a few tournaments in the fall.
"Chris was very candid," said Gregory, now the coach at SMU. "He told me, 'You're going to have your hands full. Patrick can really play, but he needs constant monitoring.'"
In his mind, Gregory had to take the gamble. Haack already had won two national titles at Georgia, and he had the requisite talent in his program (in future PGA Tour winners Harris English and Russell Henley) to seriously challenge for a third. He didn't need Reed, and Gregory did. The Augusta State coach needed one of the nation's best amateurs to transform his Division I program at a Division II commuter school into something the guardians of college golf would talk about forever.
But first, Gregory had to assure Reed he would never realize his lifelong dream of playing next door in the Masters unless he grew up, and grew up fast. The former All-American junior golfer from San Antonio and state high school champion from Baton Rouge wore out Georgia with his high-maintenance act, and he was on the verge of going 0-for-2 at Augusta State.
Long before he announced to the planet last month that he is among its top five golfers, inspiring a scaled-down version of the storm Richard Sherman kicked up after the NFC Championship Game, Reed was known for projecting a vibe of superiority and for doing too much talking for his own good. "He shot his mouth off early on when he shouldn't have," said Henrik Norlander, Reed's teammate at Augusta State.
"All I asked him to do was keep his mouth shut and play golf and let his golf clubs do the talking for him," Gregory said. "It was the only way for him to earn the respect of his teammates.
"Patrick was on his final strike, and he knew that. If he didn't shape up, he couldn't go anywhere else. Even if he made the tour at that point, maturity-wise he would've gotten eaten up. I told him he was never going to make it if he didn't get things under control."