“[Wife] Justine and I were at the Knicks game and were sitting courtside for the first time,” recalled the defending champion. “I had Chris Rock (an American comedian, actor, writer, producer, and director) right next to us. A couple seats down is 2 Chainz (an American rapper, media personality and basketball player). He just kind of keeps looking down, and you can kind of tell he’s like, ‘this isn’t the normal guy that sits in these seats; who is that?’
“And then when they announced me during one of the timeouts, he just kind of reaches over, and he kind of touches the jacket, and he goes, ‘So that’s the real thing, huh?’ I’m like, ‘Yes, sir, yes, it is.’”
Reed has become used to that sort of reaction over the past 12 months. He’s loved wearing the Green Jacket at every opportunity and people have loved seeing it. “It’s pretty cool to see the wide variety of people, no matter what their background is, no matter what their age is or anything, how many people recognise the Green Jacket,” added the 28-year-old.
“You know, you have little kids coming up to me whenever I wear it out, and they’re just like, ‘oh, it’s the Green Jacket’. Some of them play golf, some of them don’t, and I just think it’s such a cool thing how many people recognise what the Green Jacket is and what it actually stands for.”
Over the past 16 years, only Bubba Watson, the champion in 2012 and 2014, has joined the exclusive club of multiple Masters winners. Not looking forward to the prospect of having to leave his Green Jacket in the champions’ locker-room at Augusta National, Reed is determined to re-write the record books next weekend.
“My favourite moment with the Green Jacket would have had to have been right after we finished,” said the Texan, who foiled Rory McIlroy’s fourth attempt to complete a career grand slam by outperforming the Northern Irishman in the final group on the last day a year ago. “I went back to Butler Cabin and my daughter was there, and she just came over and gave me a big hug and told me I did it and told me she loved me.
“That is by far the best experience I’ve ever had with the Green Jacket. That’s a memory and a moment that I’ll never forget. If I were to win multiple other Green Jackets, it’s going to be hard to be able to top a moment like that that I was able to cherish with the little one.
“My least favourite moment is going to be when I have to return the jacket and I’m not allowed to have it in my closet and wear it around the house and out at places. It’s definitely going to give me motivation to go out and try to repeat as well as try to win multiple times.
“Even the times I’m not actually wearing the Green Jacket, to be able to see the Green Jacket sitting in your closet or sitting in an area where you’re always walking by and you’ll see it, it just gives you motivation and picks me up and tells me that you want to keep it around. You want to keep it around as long as you can. The only way you’re going to do that is continue winning at Augusta.”
Reed was a worthy winner 12 months ago after holding off everything that was thrown at him in the final round. It would be stretching things, though, to say he was a popular champion. He was accused of cheating and theft during his time at the University of Georgia.
On top of that being dredged up, it was also highlighted that he doesn’t speak to his mum, dad or sister, all of whom live in Augusta. With all that going on, how did he feel on the Sunday as he attempted to become a first-time major winner?
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous,” admitted Reed. “I thought I wasn’t going to sleep that great Saturday night, and I thought that once I woke up Sunday that I’d just be itching to get to the golf course and get to work. It actually was really weird because it was the total opposite. I slept great Saturday night, woke up Sunday and just kind of had this just calmness about myself and about the day.
“I woke up, just kind of went out and hung out with the little ones, watched a little bit of TV, and then just kind of headed over to the golf course at the same time as I normally would, and through the warm-ups and everything, I felt great. I felt like I was hitting the ball well. I felt like I was putting well, felt like I was chipping well. Just kind of felt like another day at the golf course.
“Then, all of a sudden, once I left the putting green by the first tee and I walked to the first tee, when I set foot on that first tee, I was like, ‘oh, man’. Butterflies were going, I looked at Kessler (caddie Kessler Karain), Kessler looked at me and he goes, ‘Don’t worry, I feel it, too.’ He’s like, ‘let’s just get off this first tee.’ And when I stood up there, he goes, ‘All right – here’s a 3-wood,’ and I looked at him, I go, ‘we just can’t go right.’ He goes, ‘That’s fine, then hit it left and let’s go.’
I hooked the tee shot a little left, and once I got up to that iron shot, the nerves went away.
“I expected the nerves. I expected the nerves to be there a little longer, but I was able to get myself in the right mind frame and the mindset going in that the nerves left me after I got done with the first tee shot and then it was just go out and play golf and get back to what I was doing earlier in that week.”