Is Patrick Reed Really A Top 5 Player?

Patrick Reed Wins At Doral
(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Patrick jumped into the zeitgeist this week with his WGC win, but it’s not his play that’s getting the attention, it’s his mouth! Pointing to his three wins in seven months, Reed said, “I don’t see a lot of guys that have done that besides Tiger Woods and the legends of the game. I believe in myself, especially with how hard I’ve worked. I’m one of the top five players in the world. I feel like I’ve proven myself.”

This has, predictably, made people a bit angry. One forum commenter summed up Reed’s interview this way:

So, let’s take a look and put him to the test. Is Patrick Reed really a top 5 player?

Now, it’s really all in how you define a top player. According to the Official World Golf Ranking, Patrick Reed’s win at Doral now places him at 20th place, his highest spot yet. That’s not in the top 5, but consider that before this weekend, he was in 44th place. In two years, he’s actually climbed more spots than anyone other than Jordan Spieth (from 586th at the end of 2012 to 20th today, compared to Spieth’s jump from 809th to 13th). GolfDigest did the math and found that, “he’s probably trending up quicker than anyone else on the planet, but he’s still averaging only about 4.15 world ranking points per start.” However, “compared to Tiger’s 9.91 points per start over the same period, Reed’s average seems about right for his current ranking.” Reed is now third in the FedExCup points standings, but there’s a lot more golf season to go.

What about wins? During his college years, he led Augusta State to two NCAA titles with a 6-0 record in match play. But, should we really count match play? And the NCAA is challenging, but it isn’t the PGA. So, let’s look at his PGA victories. With his win Sunday, Patrick Reed is now the youngest winner of a World Golf Championship. This season, only he and Jimmy Walker have multiple wins so far on the PGA Tour(Reed won the Humana Challenge in January). Those wins makes a good argument for top status, but what really matters in a top player is if they can play well over time. We’ll have to wait a bit for the answer to this.

Some commentators have started comparing Reed to Rory McIlroy, the only other player under the age of 25 with at least three PGA Tour wins. Even though Rory has been struggling the past year, four of Rory’s six wins were majors or playoff events, whereas two of Reed’s three wins were at weaker-field events. Reed has also never competed in a major; next month’s Masters will be his first.

So, is Patrick Reed a top 5 player? Maybe, he’s definitely on a hot streak at the moment; he’s even pushing for a leading spot on Tom Walker’s Ryder Cup Team. Reed has the confidence in his ability and some recent impressive play. But, what really makes a top player is if we will still be talking about Patrick Reed five years from now.

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