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Rookie’s Confidence Big For PGA Tour

Patrick Reed is exactly what the PGA needs.

We’ve seen his type before – young, talented and brimming with confidence. The list today is largely indistinguishable: Bobby Cole, Bobby Clampett, Ty Tryon all came out hot and disappeared just as quickly. Reed still has time to join that infamous group, but for now his combination of talent, youth and confidence is providing a spark.

Commissioner Tim Finchem would never admit it, but the PGA has been looking for the next American star to gradually take over for the aging Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott are the two most likely to take over the world’s No. 1 spot, but neither has the birth certificate necessary for full celebrity endorsement. Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson have the rebel-by-birth, middle-America-by-choice image, but neither has won enough to carry the tour. Watson doesn’t seem as focused after his 2012 Masters’ win and subsequent adoption of son Caleb. Johnson is 29, has eight wins but has come no closer to winning a major than his T2 at The Open Championship in 2012. His successful courtship of Paulina Gretzky does come close.

On March 9 at the WGC Cadillac Championship, Reed, wearing what long has been considered verboten – Tiger Woods red on Sundays – out-shot, putted and approached the other 49 top-ranked players for his third win in just 14 PGA tournaments.

That Reed even qualified for the event is impressive. The Augusta State alumnus earned his tour card last year with a world ranking close to 600. World Golf Championships are reserved for the world’s top 50 players, along with a handful of others who qualify by winning various non-U.S.-based tournaments, or are Ryder or President cup team members. Reed is now ranked No. 20, and he thinks he should be higher.

“I don’t see a lot of guys who have done that besides Tiger Woods and the legends of the game,” Reed said after the tournament, referencing his three wins on tour. “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.”

Others disagree. But as Golf Channel’s Gary Williams correctly pointed out the day after Reed’s victory, depending on whom you ask, there are 15 top 5 players.

Reed’s faith in himself is not without merit. In addition to his three professional wins before the age of 24 – a feat that only has been matched by Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia since 1990 – he also is the youngest person to win a WGC event. He is fourth in Ryder Cup points and has won two NCAA titles (going 6-0 in those events).

Is he brash, as some have suggested? Maybe, in golf terms. When compared to NFL wideouts, he’s taken a relative vow of silence.

Regardless of how well Reed develops, it’s unlikely he’ll peg the Q meter like Woods. Reed is not Adam Scott handsome, he lacks Mickelson’s goofy friendly nature and does not offer the fish-out-of-pond uniqueness of Boo Weekley. He is, however, a talented young golfer who knows how good he is and isn’t afraid to let you know.

Cocky? Maybe. But the PGA is vanilla enough. It needs some spice to keep things interesting.

Twitter: @SteveMurray84