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Monday, April 9, 2018

We Sure Take Our Masters Champions Personally

After a day filled with drama and amazing golf by several of the world's best golfers, Patrick Reed is your 2018 Masters champion. Why are so many people upset by that?

Patrick Reed doesn't care what you think -- he's the Masters champion | Ian O'Connor ESPN.com

It was never going to be pretty with Patrick Reed, the golfer who collected more enemies than most on his stormy rise from boyhood prodigy to college bad boy to self-promoting PGA Tour winner to master of the Masters. Reed was kicked off his University of Georgia team, and nearly voted off his Augusta State team by his schoolmates, for offenses that ranged from alcohol-fueled misbehavior to an arrest for underage drinking to constantly talking down to lesser teammates to alleged cheating infractions. His coach at Augusta State, Josh Gregory, suspended him and warned him that his entire career was about to go up in smoke.

Like it or not, Reed a Masters champion |  Ryan Lavner for GolfChannel.com

Carrying a chip the size of Texas, Reed’s abrasive personality has rubbed others the wrong way for the past decade. Alienating his teammates at Georgia with his brash attitude and me-first approach (along with other unconfirmed misdeeds), he lasted only a semester with the Bulldogs, his dismissal expedited by a 2008 arrest for underage possession of alcohol and possession of a fraudulent ID.

Troubled Master: Patrick Reed’s ongoing family feud | Neil Tappin for GolfMonthly.co.uk

The most notable aspect of his immediate post round celebration wasn’t who was there – his wife Justine, a regular on Tour, was the first to greet him with a kiss – but who wasn’t there. Reed has been estranged from his parents, Bill and Jeannette and younger sister, Hannah since he married Justine at the age of 22 in 2012. Patrick Reed’s family feud continues to unfold and reveals much about the 2018 US Masters Champion.

Article after article, tweet after tweet, are quick to judge their new Masters champion as not being cut from the right cloth. There is no denying that Reed has had a troubled past. None of these articles are inaccurate as far as the public record goes. Reed has his flaws and a history that I'm sure he isn't completely proud of. But Patrick Reed did what so many have not. He has won the Masters. Where is his respect for that?

The Masters is a different beast. Too many golf fans take their Masters champion personally. Reed didn't just win a major yesterday. He won the right to come back to Augusta every year for the rest of his life. He is part of a club that specifically recognizes its past champions forever. Whenever you're made a permanent part of something people love, there's going to be critics. They will be slow to forgive the past because they want more than a champion. They want a feel-good story. They want a hero. People expect a member of the Masters champions club to be special. They expect the Masters to represent all that is perfect with golf. They are wrong to do that.

Part of the disappointment of Reed's win comes from who he beat of course. There were many other potential fun stories going into Sunday that would have given golf fans their special feel-good champion. Could McIlroy get his career slam? Would Fowler, golf's biggest star without a major, finally break through? Could someone like Bubba Watson or Jon Rahm make an epic Sunday charge? And then there was the charge that did happen, Jordan Speith's, that would have cemented him as one of the greatest Masters champions of all time, but came up a little short with an embarrassing bogey on the 18th. All the while, Reed was out there putting together a workmanlike round of 71 to hang on to a lead he had built over the previous three days. No Sunday roars for him. Not even any birdies on the par-5s. Reed did just enough to win on Sunday, the day most casual fans devote to watching the Masters, with no real excitement. The thrills came from everyone else. The hero at the end of the day on Sunday did little to shine in the spotlight and that left some people cold.

But why no love for winning the Masters because of his past? No one seemed that upset when "Captain America" was going head-to-head against McIlroy in the Ryder Cup. He was the poster boy for the U.S. team. American fans loved the attitude, the shushing of the crowds, the finger wags, the intensity, and the points he won. No one was bringing up his past that day. Why so negative after Augusta?

Fans are going to cheer for whoever they want. They can love him or hate him. Either way, Patrick Reed is Masters champion. I'm guessing that's all he really cares about right now. Well done sir.

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