PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Patrick Reed’s compass is pretty dialed in when it comes to finding his wife, Justine, on the golf course.
She’s true north for him.
“I think I’ve seen him hit every shot this year, maybe I missed one,” Justine said between shots Friday at the Honda Classic, where Reed is making another run at yet another victory.
Coming off his 11th hole of the day, after making a nice up-and-down from the front bunker, Reed found his wife, leaning on her umbrella. The long, golden locks flowing out of Justine’s golf cap, spilling halfway down her back, make her easy to find.
They exchanged quick smiles from a distance.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Justine said of the on-course connection. “Patrick always seems to know where I am. Sometimes, you just need a little smile. It’s such a grind out here.”
These two have been through a lot in their rocket ride up the PGA Tour ranks in a little more than two seasons, from thrilling victories to controversial news to frightening health scares. They were once the cute player-caddie couple that Monday qualified their way into the spotlight on the PGA Tour. Now, they’re quickly becoming quite the power couple, on a climb that would grow impressively steeper with a victory this week.
With a 3-under-par 67 Friday, Reed is the leader in the clubhouse in the rain-suspended Honda Classic. He’s at 6-under overall, two shots behind Brendan Steele, who is only four holes through his second round.
Reed, 24, will be trying to win his fifth PGA Tour title this weekend. Over the last 30 years, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia are the only players to win at least five times before their 25th birthday.
What’s it mean to be mentioned in that company?
“It always means a lot,” Reed said. “The main thing is I feel like I just keep on improving day‑in and day‑out. I feel like I've improved on little things that I've needed, to be a little more consistent. Luckily, we've been in the hunt coming down Sunday. We've done pretty well.”
Reed speaks in the plural “we” because Justine is part of what’s happening out there, even though she no longer totes his golf bag. Her brother, Kessler, carries Patrick’s bag now. From a distance, Justine is still a factor. She has become a second set of eyes for Reed and for his coach, Kevin Kirk. She isn’t just cheerleading on this journey with him. She is a student of the game. She’s observing, taking mental notes.
What is she looking for out there?
“It depends,” Justine said. “Sometimes, Patrick will ask me to look for something specific. He might want me to watch for something with the position of his hips, or his tendency to get on his heels with his driver. Sometimes, it’s seeing a pattern, like at Spyglass and Pebble Beach this year, where he was being too aggressive with his decisions.
“I’ve learned a lot in a short amount of time being out here.”
They also talk about how Patrick’s feeling out there, about temperament.
“I think he’s definitely matured on the course,” she said. “We talk about a lot of things.”
Justine is out there with Patrick, rain or shine. She was out there Friday when the skies opened and heavy rain washed over the course, causing the PGA Tour to stop play twice.
“I got soaked,” Justine said.
Patrick noticed his wife slogging along with him, even in the rain.
“It means a lot,” Reed said. “Just the support I have from her, from my team, being out there, especially Justine.
“I was going to tell her to go in on 12, but she gutted it out. It was nasty.”
During the first suspension of play, Justine hustled back to the house where the Reeds are staying. She changed clothes and brought back dry clothes for Patrick.
“All the little things she does help a lot,” Reed said.
In a Sports Illustrated story published three weeks ago, the magazine detailed the thrills and travails the Reeds have faced in their climb. It’s remarkable what life has already packed into their story.
There was the exhilarating birth of their daughter, Windsor-Wells, eight months ago, taking Justine from the role of caddie to mother. There was the frightening incident last December, when Patrick rescued Justine from nearly drowning in a bathtub after she was overcome by a grand mal seizure. There has been Patrick’s estrangement from his parents, backlash he faced proclaiming himself a “top-five” player in the world after winning at Trump Doral last year, unflattering stories about strife with former college teammates . . . Their story is chock full of drama, but so much promise, too, in what this couple is achieving together.
“I just want people to realize how passionate and how determined I am and how much love I have for the game of golf,” Reed told Sports Illustrated.
Nobody knows that better than Justine.