Yes, Patrick Reed eventually got things under control. He showed up at Augusta National on Monday saying he'd wear red again in the final round in honor of his idol, Tiger Woods, whose absence here isn't the only reason the 23-year-old Reed might win the first major in which he's ever competed. His victory at Doral in the WGC-Cadillac Championship was his third in seven months, notarizing his staggering belief in himself (think Ian Poulter's ego on steroids) and encouraging him to see contention on Sunday's back nine as a realistic endgame.
Can this trash-talker with the young Tiger mentality and the young Jack Nicklaus body actually win the Masters on his first try? Win, lose or withdraw, this much is already clear:
What a long, strange, turbulent trip to Augusta National it's been.
Patrick's first gift after he was born was a plastic set of golf clubs waiting for him on the kitchen table, but his father, Bill, didn't have designs on the PGA Tour. A manager in the health care industry, Bill said he saw how sales reps were paired with executives during corporate outings, and figured he'd start working early on his son's business career-to-be.
When Reed was 9, Peter Murphy, a coach under Hank Haney, started working with him on Haney's ranch in McKinney, Tex., and he never felt he was dealing with some uncoachable phenom. From day one, all the teacher saw was a respectful student, one who was kind to Murphy's younger son and who had never met a shot under pressure he was afraid to try.
"Patrick never worried about finishing second or third if it meant blowing up on the last hole," Murphy said. "He tried to win at all costs."
Reed would stay at Murphy's place in Dallas on weekends, hit hundreds upon hundreds of practice balls over nine hours, eat dinner, putt on the backyard green under the lights and then rise early the next morning to do it all over again.
Reed worked with Murphy at the ranch at the same time Woods was tweaking his swing with Haney. "Patrick took a lot away from Tiger's demeanor, and his intimidation, the way Tiger had an air about him," Murphy said. "Patrick tried to portray a little of that when playing himself. He wanted to show people that he wouldn't back down."
The kid took on every dog-leg in sight, and over time Reed became a dominant player locally, regionally, even nationally, taking his game places his family never imagined.
Patrick kept winning tournaments despite "playing up" against older boys, and when his family moved to Louisiana, he landed at University Lab High School in Baton Rouge. "He was kind of the talk of the school for sure," said one of his University teammates, Craig Chandler.
"He'd competed all over the country, and everyone was saying this is the guy who will help us win a state championship. He was almost kind of a mercenary, a ringer for our team. He was fiercely competitive and always so sure of himself on and off the course, and very unapologetic about it, too. There were times I was taken aback by it."
Another University teammate, Darren Bahnsen, was taken aback by Reed's fearless approach to an impossibly cruel game. The first time they played together, Bahnsen watched Reed cut a 300-yard drive around the corner of a par 4 that stopped seven feet from the hole before he sank the eagle putt.