Virginia Water, England – Amidst all that has happened and continues to have a controversial existence forever, no one doubted Patrick Reed’s ability to play golf. Just everywhere and anywhere. Long before the former Masters champion committed a large part of his future to the endlessly profitable but less challenging entity LIV Golf, he was a member of the European Tour (and is now an honorary member of what is now the DP World Tour). Unlike many of his countrymen, he was willing and able to test himself on unfamiliar courses that contrast sharply with the relative similarity of the PGA Tour.
A certain golf lover – a former Junior Open winner – the now 32-year-old Reed enjoys a variety of golf on the beach and the amount of time the ball necessarily spends on the ground rather than in the air.
“I enjoy the various questions that are asked of us on the links,” he says. “There are 10 different ways you can play each shot. So stick to one way and let all that other noise in your head escape. In that regard, golf ties are more mental than physical. On the round, we all have the physical talent. But the winner is Always the guy who really thinks the ball is going to fly by a certain number and lets it fly into the hole. Or the player who can hit a shot very far from what appears to be the right line, knowing that the ball will come back to the flag.”
None of it had anything to do with the Red 63’s under-nine shot at Wentworth on Sunday in the final round of the BMW PGA Championship. The wind was almost non-existent, and the ground was loose underfoot. In other words, the conditions are set up perfectly for low scores. Reid took advantage. So did partner play, Lee Westwood, who shot 65. The pair combined for a better score in the ball than 58, one or the other making a birdie in each of the last nine holes. This might not be the most interesting look in the game, but it’s clear that Reed can do hit and stick as well as bounce and roll.
However, it wasn’t about the details of a 5-only tour (on the 18th) that Reed was asked to speak to the press. Inevitably, he was questioned further about his off-cycle experiences in a controversial weekend marked by conflict between those with LIV persuasion and those inclined to the establishment’s viewpoint. As always, Reed was brave in his defense of the Saudi-backed circuit that did so much to upset the balance of professional golf and insisted his transatlantic trips remain full of fun and laughter.
“The guys have been supportive and act the same way to me as if I was playing on the PGA Tour,” he said. “I feel like we have mutual respect, me and the European Tour guys. I’ve played consistently here since 2015, whether in this tournament, Rolex Series or a European Tour league event. So I’ve consistently shown my support. The fans have been fantastic this week and so supportive. It’s nice because I plan to continue coming to England.”
In fact, unlike Westwood and Ian Poulter, at the request of DP World Tour CEO Keith Bailey, Reed did not wear his LIV Golf logo.
“LIV worked hard to get me clothes to wear this week,” he said. “It shows not only the respect the sponsors have but the respect they have for me as a player. There is a picture of me on Wednesday with a logo on it. But I got my clothes literally an hour and 40 minutes before I went out on Thursday. It was great that we were able to get that done.
“At the end of the day I hope all the rounds work out something and come together. There is no point in all this going back and forth and smearing other people because it does nothing for us, does nothing for brand and does nothing for golf. We have to let the players play and be Competitors and we do what we do best. That’s playing golf and it allows us to take care of ourselves.”
It didn’t end there either. By repeating a familiar crunch, Reed defended that playing the DP World Tour and LIV is no different from the schedule that combines DP World and PGA Tour events.
“I’ve played in two rounds my whole life, my entire career,” he insisted. “I’ve played on the PGA Tour and the European Tour at the same time. I don’t see any difference between playing the PGA Tour and here and playing on the LIV and here. LIV only has 14 events next year, which means I’ll be here more. Guys are like, oh, I joined in on LIV to play a lower schedule. Well, I’m a guy who played 31 to 34 events a year. So if I play 14 in LIV and I play six here, an extra 20 and 11 to 14 weeks I can spend time with my family. As a player, I hope the Tours do the thing. The right one and let us play but at the end of the day that’s not our decision.”
There was time for another question, only lightly loaded: If it were to happen, how did Red think the world would react to a LIV player winning here this week?
“The guys on the LIV are really good golfers,” he noted. “I’m sure there’s going to be some kind of media storm that’s the easiest way to put it. But, even so, it wouldn’t be any different if it was last year and the same players were playing the PGA Tour, right? At the end of the day, if you take everything apart – All the hype – he’s just going to be another big player coming in and winning a golf tournament. There’s no big media frenzy when a European comes along and wins the PGA Tour. And when Billy [Horschel] He won here last year I felt as if a normal player won from here. I don’t think there should be anything different in terms of reaction. It just shows that the LIV guys are still ready to play and thirsty for competition.”