Greensboro, N.C. — The text messages are of the same general vein: “If you win, you get to play …”
Patrick Reed calls Augusta, Ga., home. When he went off to college at the University of Georgia in Athens, he was beckoned to Augusta and transferred to Augusta State University. And should he claim this week’s 85th U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, home will likely invite him to play in April’s Masters.
“If you start thinking about the semis or getting into the finals, that’s when the match you’re playing is done and you’re out of here,” said Reed, 19, who defeated Alex Edfort of Somerset, N.J., 3 and 2, in Thursday’s second round of match play at Bryan Park Golf & Conference Center.
This “what if” scenario is not new to Reed.
Two years ago, just down the road at Pinehurst No. 2, Reed reached the U.S. Amateur semifinals — one win shy of a Masters invite. He lost to eventual champion Danny Lee, 3 and 2.
Reed, the 2006 Junior British Open champion, is savvy enough to know that each round, each match stands on it own merit. Of the 12 players who finished stroke-play qualifying under par, nine were eliminated in the opening two rounds of match play.
“Stay patient, because it can either be a real short week or a real long week,” he said. “You have to play each match as if it’s life and death.”
Reed, who won the Jones Cup in Sea Island, Ga., in February and tied for 16th at The Players Amateur in Bluffton, S.C., prior to the APL, opened with a 7-and-6 victory over Travis Graham on Wednesday. In an odd way, Reed enjoyed a closer match against Edfort.
“I was 4 up with four to play [against Edfort] and lost 15,” he recounted. “Then at 16 I had to make a 4-footer to win. I still had other holes as a cushion, but it was good to actually play some extra holes and have to make a couple of pressure putts.”
Reed was born a Texan, graduated high school in Louisiana and then headed to the University of Georgia. He was sold on the beauty of Athens.
“All I saw were the big things,” he said. “I saw the football, I saw all of the great girls walking around. I saw the whole atmosphere and thought the big school was right for me. It wasn’t. I realized I needed a small place and I learned that the hard way. So I transferred.”
Reed transferred following the Bulldogs’ spring 2009 season, and became the ideal fit for the Jaguars.
In 10 events, Reed led the team in stroke average (71.21) and number of top-five finishes (5). He also helped the Jaguars to their first NCAA Division I Championship team title.
“It was the right move at the right time for me,” he said.
If Reed can win his way through four more rounds of match play, then he will claim the APL title and maybe then — only then — will he allow himself to think about the Masters.
“Every time you drive by there you’re in awe,” said Reed, who has played two rounds at Augusta National. “So it would be cool to play the Masters.”
Just imagine the text messages then.
Stuart Hall is a freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.