"If you ever challenged him at something, he answered it every single time," Bahnsen said. "In one practice round I hit a drive down the middle, about 275 yards, and felt good about it. Patrick said, 'Man, that's a good drive,' and then he got down on two knees and hit his ball 10 yards past me. From his knees."
Though he was two years older, Bahnsen drew confidence from Reed. In fact, he said the whole team did. Reed would help University win a state championship as a mere freshman in 2006, the same year he'd win the Junior British Open. The following season, he outdueled his older rival, future PGA Tour player Andrew Loupe, by blowing away the field with an opening 7-under 65 in winning the individual state title along with a second title for his team.
Even back then, the University coach, Paul Crespo, said Reed thought he would win every time he stepped on the first tee. "And gosh," Crespo said, "it seemed 99.9 percent of the time he did."
Reed's relentless focus on his career goals might've made him unique among the teenage golfers, but neither Chandler nor Bahnsen recalled any problems with Reed, or resentment of him. "Patrick was the nicest kid in the world," Crespo said. "I'm not just saying that. I've got nothing bad to say about the kid. He was polite, mature, and he ... got along with everybody."
This was the blue-chipper everyone wanted, the one who enrolled in online courses to graduate a year early after a move to Augusta, where his father had taken a new job. The Georgia Bulldogs won the recruiting war, like they'd won so many others. But the signing of Patrick Reed would prove to be a Pyrrhic victory.
At 2:33 a.m. on Nov. 8, 2008, University of Georgia police officer Jason Vogt was summoned to the East Campus Village by housing security to meet with a freshman that the officer would describe as "intoxicated." In his incident report, Vogt said he could smell alcohol on Reed's breath. "His speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet," the officer wrote, before stating the student presented him with a driver's license that appeared to be altered and showed a false date of birth.
Vogt arrested Reed for underage possession of alcohol and possession of a fraudulent ID. According to the Athens-Clarke County Superior Court case docket, Reed pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor and was put on probation, fined and sentenced to 60 hours of community service before he was discharged as a first offender.
In and of itself, the arrest didn't spell doom for Reed at Georgia. (How many underage college kids across America drink with the help of a bogus ID?) But the case spoke to the disconnect between a seemingly immature Reed and his obligations as a representative of a highly successful athletics program.
"I went out, had a drink, got arrested, but I learned a lot from it," Reed told ESPN.com on Monday. "It was a blessing in disguise. I grew as a person, and it taught me to stay focused on my goals to be successful and take me where I am today."
Haack didn't want to lose Reed if he could help it. He remembered his prize recruit as a gifted ball striker who won over the Bulldogs' assistant, Ryan Hybl, while playing in a tournament in Colorado. "I'll never forget Ryan calling me and going, 'This guy hits it close all day long but never makes anything," Haack said. "If he ever figures out the putter, he's going to be dangerous.'"