AUGUSTA, Ga. — As Patrick Reed returns to Augusta National to defend his 2018 Masters title, he does so with renowned swing coach David Leadbetter recently added to the team.
After leaking oil on the road to Magnolia Lane with rounds of 78-77 in late March, Reed’s wife and former caddie, Justine, made the call to Leadbetter during the Valspar Championship in Tampa, Fla.
It was a move we don’t often see at golf’s highest level. First, that it was the player’s wife and former caddie who set up the meeting; and second that it was less than three weeks before Reed’s Masters defense.
“Some people might speculate whether, ‘Oh to do this before The Masters?’, but they’re not on our team,” Justine Reed said. “So I don’t know if that’s something to really speculate about… they’re not living it every single day.”
Justine stressed that the coaching move was about more than just the Masters.
“People look at something and they see a snapshot of it, and we’re looking at the big picture,” Justine said. “Whether or not The Masters is one week away, or two weeks away, or three weeks away, we’re not trying to put a band-aid on something, we’re looking at ball-striking stats and we wanted to implement a change.”
Leadbetter said he’d never seen a player add a new coach this close to a Masters title defense, nor had former player turned TV commentator Gary Koch.
And to take this emergency session a step further, Justine announced via a text to Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte three days later that they’d officially added Leadbetter to Team Reed.
“After Patrick worked with (David), I could tell just in watching on TV that there was good chemistry there and that David was helping him,” Justine Reed said.
So she next had a “candid” conversation with Kevin Kirk, the coach who Reed’s caddie Kessler Karain calls the “technical coach” for Reed and they decided together to add Leadbetter to the team.
Kirk calls Leadbetter, “one of the best coaches on the planet.”
Josh Gregory is the other of Reed’s coaches and Kessler refers to him as the “performance” coach.
Reed has worked with Kirk since 2012 and Gregory since 2015.
Could this be a case of too many cooks in the kitchen, especially before the Masters?
One golf writer tweeted after Leadbetter’s arrival that Reed now has more coaches than top 10s this calendar year.
Justine certainly notices when golf press pokes fun at their decisions, and Team Reed as a whole.
“They don’t know me,” Justine said, “they don’t know Patrick, they don’t know us.
“But they comment as if they know us.”
In fairness, outside of Team Reed’s tightly-knit inner circle, not many really know the Reeds and specifically how they make major decisions.
And just what exactly is Justine’s role with Team Reed?
When asked directly, Justine gave this answer:
“That’s a great question, I don’t know if that’s a question I can honestly answer,” she said. “I wear a lot of hats. I just do the best I can. I’m a mom, I’m a wife, I’m pretty much, I don’t know how to explain what I do for Team Reed or if that’s really my place to explain what I do.
“I’ve walked so much out there (on the course) and been there every single day it seems.”
Justine caddied during 2013 for Patrick’s rookie season and some of his sophomore year on the PGA Tour, including his breakthrough Tour win at Greensboro in a playoff against a red-hot Jordan Spieth.
Since then her brother Kessler took the bag starting at the 2014 Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Two weeks later, they won together at Palm Springs.
With Masters week here, Justine remembers one of her favorite moments from last year’s victory. After Patrick completed his post-round media interviews and press conference, he walked back to Butler Cabin.
According to the defending Master champ, when he entered he was greeted by his 3-year-old daughter, Windsor-Wells, who told him, “Congratulations daddy, I love you”.
“I just melted,” Patrick Reed said.
“It was so sweet,” Justine said. “Just a sweet moment for him, and for all of us, just to see Windsor and for her to know how amazing that was. It was just special.”
Patrick Reed called that moment the emotional high of his Masters win.
And one of Patrick’s funniest one-liners from last year’s Masters?
Well, that involves Tiger Woods.
Picture this: On a sun-baked Tuesday afternoon on the eighth hole, Reed plays alone on the long, uphill par-5 eighth and is hitting his wedge approach shot from right and short of the green.
Woods, Fred Couples and Justin Thomas are teeing off on the ninth a couple hundred feet away, and are about to walk within earshot of a grinding Reed.
“Someone hit the ball into a tree off of nine tee, so I gave Tiger a hard time and said ‘hey, was that you hitting the trees over there?’
“We were just going back and forth jawing at each other and having a good time,” Reed smiled.
The exchange ended with Tiger laughingly, yelling, “whatever,” to that year’s eventual champ.
Even though they were busting each other’s chops, it was still all in good fun.
“That’s the thing, you’ve just got to stay loose, especially at Augusta,” Reed said.
“For me, I like to kind of make (The Masters) way larger than it really is because it’s such an important and big event for myself, so I was just trying to do anything I could to keep myself loose. And there’s no easier way than to start going back and forth with Tiger Woods.”