Patrick Reed had a pretty good day at the WGC-Cadillac Championship moving beyond his 3-over 75 in Friday’s wind-fest at Trump National Doral to shoot a slick, 3-under 69. That gave him a 2-shot lead going into Sunday’s final round. He’s at 4-under and trailed by Jason Dufner and Hunter Mahan. He’ll be paired with Dufner and Mahan will be paired with Tiger Woods, who shot 6-under 66 to get right back into the tournament.
The main thing with this kind of golf course is with how firm and fast and tough it’s playing, you have to stay patient, and I felt like I stuck to my game plan all day and stayed real patient and felt like I got a lot out of my round.
I feel like I left some shots out there but I feel comfortable going into tomorrow especially with the lead and hopefully go do the same thing.
Reed has developed the particular skill of playing with blinders on. In the middle of the fire, you can’t be looking around and you can’t allow yourself to be distracted by other players:
I have to go and just play my own game. I was playing with Dustin Johnson today and I could have gotten into situation where I started to play ‘Who Could Hit the Ball the Farthest,’ and I would have lost that battle every time.
But I stayed in my rhythm, stayed in my golf game and my game plan, and that’s why I’m sitting here with the lead because I’m not getting ahead of myself and not trying to play against other people, just playing my own game.
Reed found himself a little surprised by Johnson’s length on the second tee; he’s one of the longest players on Tour. Rather than being intimidated by that, Reed knew his own talents and stuck to them:
He hits it so far. I realized how far he really hit it when we stepped up on the second tee and I hit a pull‑draw drive, which usually will go a long way, and I had a soft 8‑iron in my hand. I think he had 80 yards. I mean, he hit it so far off that tee, and he flew the bunker on 6.
So I know he hits it a very long way, and I knew that coming into today. I’ve seen him hit the ball before; it’s like a missile coming off the face. All I can do is make sure I played to my strengths and plodded my way around the course where I left myself chances for birdie.
One of the pitfalls of running at the front of a tournament is to get ahead of yourself; counting the holes down, anticipating the trouble holes before you get there, indeed, watching the trophy presentation unfolding in your mind’s eye before your eye crosses the back fringe of the 18th hole. Reed knows all that:
You know, I mean, it doesn’t bother me to the fact that I know I’m playing real well. If you have a 54‑hole lead, that means you’re playing the best golf of the group through three rounds.
You know, the thing is, I just can’t get ahead of myself and tomorrow is Sunday, but at the same time it’s another round of golf. Of course, anyone would love to win the event, but at the same time, you have to go in with the kind of mind‑set that if you happen to not get it done, it’s not the end of the world.
We’ve won twice since August. I mean, we’ve played great, and if I continue doing what I’m supposed to be doing, I mean, come Sunday afternoon, hopefully we’re holding the trophy.
And it’s also true that success meets at the junction of desire and preparation. This is a guy who was Monday qualifying back in 2012 — 6 times! — and now here he is with two wins (
Charlotte Greensboro and Palm Springs) and in the top 50 in the world:
Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely come very fast but at the same time, for what my wife and I have done throughout the past 2 ½, three years, we’ve worked so hard, not only at events, but also at home behind the scenes with getting my game where it needs to be. That’s the reason why I’m playing as well as I am.
It’s one of those things that when you work as hard as we have at home, when you come out here, you’re going to produce numbers. You’re going to play well. The main thing for me is just stay more consistent and continue shooting low numbers and keep getting these kind of positions where I have leads going into Sunday.
Then he gave us a sense of what “hard work at home” looks like with a peek behind the curtain at his practice habits:
We work really hard with Kevin Kirk, my swing coach. We’ll get out there at 8:00, 8:30, lessons, go all the way until about noon. And then after the lesson, we’ll work on whatever we need to work on, whether it’s putting, full swing, distance control and wedges, chipping. Then usually after that, we’ll go play 18 holes or nine holes.
We start at 8:30, usually ends around 4:30, 5:00. And that’s one of those things that we do probably would say five days a week.
For example, next week, Monday and Tuesday, I’m going to take off and then I’m going to be back at it Wednesday through Sunday morning before I leave to catch a flight over to Bay Hill. It’s just one of those things that I feel like however hard you work at home and what you put in at home, that’s how you’re going to produce on the golf course.
On of the by-products of playing in so many Monday qualifiers is that you develop a thick skin if you want to be successful. You become a very aggressive player if you want to get through because its golf’s version of the classic gunslinger attitude; you live and die by whether you can pull the shot off and keep going lower. Pars don’t win Monday qualifiers:
I’ve always had that aggressive, kind of go for everything [attitude].
The main thing now is I feel like with how my golf swing is that I’m a little bit more consistent with it and I know exactly almost where it’s going most of the time. That allows me to, when I am aggressive, pull off the shots. Probably five, six years ago, I probably couldn’t pull off half the shots, even though I would try.
Now I feel like 80, 90 percent of the time, I can pull off any shot I’m trying to do. That just gives me more confidence to the fact that coming down the 71st, 72nd hole, if I have to be really aggressive to have a chance to win, I can do that.
And now that we know that he knows how to win six Monday qualifiers and two PGA Tour tournaments, you gotta think he’s got an chance on Sunday. As much as anything, because he thinks he has a chance.