(Please note language in 16th para)
By Andrew Both
AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) - Greater emotional control on the course helped Patrick Reed win the U.S. Masters, his caddie said on Sunday, after the Texan had clinched a one-stroke victory over Rickie Fowler at Augusta National.
Reed’s brother-in-law Kessler Karain has been on the bag since 2014, and has noticed a maturation process in the newest member of the major championship club.
“He’s a lot more calm,” Karain told reporters outside the clubhouse while his boss was being presented with a Green Jacket in the nearby Butler Cabin.
“He doesn’t let those loose shots get to him as much. Golfers throw tantrums and I haven’t seen too many of those in a long time.
“His attitude has gotten a lot better than since when he was first out here. When you’re young, that’s how most of them seem to be. They’re a little harder on themselves than when they get older.”
Reed’s attitude down the years has certainly rubbed some people the wrong way, and his victory, while coveted, will likely come at a cost, namely a loss of privacy.
It will elevate his profile to the point where he is likely to be quizzed much more frequently than previously about his relationship with his parents.
It has been widely reported that Reed, who married young and has two children, is estranged from his parents. Accusations have been traded on social media between Reed’s wife Justine and his sister Hannah about the cause.
Whatever the truth, Reed, 27, will not discuss it publicly.
Asked about not being able to share the joy of victory with his parents, he batted off the question. “I’m just out here to play golf and try to win golf tournaments,” he said.
Reed has long been able to put the family drama aside on the course, as he did again during a final round when he was not at his very best.
Yet he still had enough up his sleeve to shoot a one-under-par round of 71, a luxury he could afford after starting the day with a three-shot buffer.
Karain said the only time he had seen Reed nervous was on the 18th green, when the golfer left himself with a four-footer for golfing immortality, not exactly a gimme under the circumstances.
Caddies pride themselves on knowing what to say and when. Karain decided to stay out of the way.
“I didn’t say anything to him. I was about to and then I decided, ‘no, just don’t get in the way.’
“He took a deep breath, let it out and then went and made the putt.”
Which prompted Karain to break his silence, and say: “Great (expletive) job ... It may not have been pretty but it got the job done.”
But Reed’s victory was not just the result of his steely resolve and poise under pressure.
He also had two late big slices of luck — firstly on the 13th hole, where he hit his seven-iron approach fat and got lucky when it barely cleared the Rae’s Creek tributary and stayed up on the bank.
And at the 17th hole his long birdie putt was in danger of hurtling way beyond the hole, until it rammed into the back of the hole, breaking the ball’s momentum and leaving him with a five-footer that he duly holed.
“It was huge,” Karain said of the par. “Gave him that second wind at the time he needed it the most.”
Asked what the victory meant in the big picture to his boss, caddie Karain had no doubts.
“It knocks one out of the four majors he wants down,” he said.
Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Ian Chadband