ATLANTA, GEORGIA | Two weeks ago, Patrick Reed lay in an intensive care hospital bed in Texas with bilateral pneumonia and a message from his doctors:
Take every chance to talk to his family.
“First couple days they were sitting there telling me make sure you text your family quite a bit, talk to your family, because you just don’t know. I mean, this is not good. We’re not in a good spot right now,” Reed said Thursday at the Tour Championship.
“With how the hospitals are these days because of COVID(-19) and everything that’s going on, it doesn’t matter what’s going on. They won’t allow people in there, so it’s only you in there.
“So I’m sitting there and those first two days the only thing that was going through my mind is, I’m not going to be able to tell my kids goodbye. I’m not going to be able to tell them I love them. I’m not going to be able to tell my wife that I love her and give her a hug.”
Were this not a Ryder Cup year – and Reed is hoping to earn one of captain Steve Stricker’s six at-large picks on Sept. 8 – he would not have made the 15-hour drive from Houston to Atlanta. But Reed, who was ranked 30th in the FedEx Cup points race making him the last player to qualify for the Tour Championship, wants to play at Whistling Straits. He is hopeful this week can cement him a spot on the American team.
Reed, who said he was vaccinated over the summer, was hospitalized on Aug. 19 when the first round of the Northern Trust was being played at Liberty National. Reed had been in New York but withdrew citing an ankle injury. He was in the hospital through Aug. 23.
“It hit me just like a brick,” Reed said. “Just all of a sudden I went from feeling okay to literally feeling like I couldn’t breathe and was almost drowning in air and it … hit me so fast and it was so brutal.”
Reed said doctors were concerned because of the severity of the pneumonia and where it was located in his lungs, particularly his left lung.
“It was scary because it was in my lower lobes, which is where a lot of deaths and people pass away from,” Reed said.
“As a whole, I feel optimistic, obviously with the way I finished, getting through 18 and not feeling like my health is hindering me.” – Patrick Reed
Upon leaving the hospital last week, Reed said he tested negative for COVID-19. “So that’s always a positive,” Reed said. “Really when I went into the ER and with the scans and everything they have done, did on my lungs and everything, their main priority was to make sure that we fought this pneumonia in both lungs because of how fatal it can be.”
Reed said he took his first swings with a golf club on Monday then spent Tuesday traveling to Atlanta. He played nine holes on Wednesday then was in the first twosome off Thursday at the Tour Championship.
With temperatures in the mid-80s and low humidity, Reed handled East Lake’s hills without any serious problem. He is still working to regain his strength, which he said he can feel in his swing where his clubhead speed is down.
Reed’s first round was a mixed bag. He hit some crooked shots – he missed the par-3 11th green badly to the right and played the par-5 finishing hole from the left trees nearer the 10th fairway – and finished with just six greens in regulation.
What didn’t seem to be affected was Reed’s short game, which kept his score from ballooning.
“As a whole, I feel optimistic, obviously with the way I finished, getting through 18 and not feeling like my health is hindering me,” Reed said.
“To think that I’m able to be here and play and really feel like (Thursday), I really felt okay. I mean, it’s a little frustrating not having the speed, not being able to hit the shots and really feel certain things quite yet, but I took a ton of time off,” Reed said.
“I was battling for my life. I was in the hospital. And the good thing is now I can hit the ground running, hopefully.”
As for his Ryder Cup chances, Reed saw Stricker at East Lake on Wednesday. The captain saw Reed make a birdie on the long, difficult par-3 ninth hole where he hit a hybrid to about 8 feet.
“I think the biggest thing for me this week is just to see kind of where I’m at,” Reed said. “And I know by Ryder Cup my game’s going to be where it needs to be, as long as I feel like my health is where it needs to be and as long as I feel like I can sustain through rounds of golf.”
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