Patrick Reed turning 2017 season around at Wells Fargo Championship

May 6, 2017; Wilmington, NC, USA; Patrick Reed tees off on four during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Eagle Point Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
May 6, 2017; Wilmington, NC, USA; Patrick Reed tees off on four during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Eagle Point Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

Patrick Reed is in contention for his first win of the 2017 season at the Wells Fargo Championship

Patrick Reed has endured more than his share of struggles during the 2017 PGA Tour season. With his record of success at just 26 years old, it’s a clear shock to his system. While the results have been disappointing thus far, however, Reed can turn it all around on Sunday. He’ll enjoy a final-group tee time at Eagle Point, and a shot at the Wells Fargo Championship title.

Reed’s reputation for boldness is renowned, but also well-earned. He raised eyebrows in 2014 when he claimed that he was “one of the top five players in the world”, but he’s backed it up. A five-time winner on the PGA Tour, Reed has also become a firebrand for the American Ryder Cup team. Although he hasn’t officially reached top-five status yet, he has gotten as high as seventh in the Official World Golf Ranking.

These days, Reed doesn’t have to talk – the numbers speak for themselves. This week’s most important number was 67. Reed fired that five-under round on Saturday to move into the 54-hole lead for the first time all year.

Reed’s first half of 2017 has been a battle to get back to basics

If you speak to Patrick Reed, as did in March of this year, you’ll realize quickly that he’s supremely confident, but not truly cocky. It’s that confidence that has carried him through the most humbling stretch of golf in his career.

Reed opened the fall season with a couple of mediocre appearances in Asia. A T-51 finish at the CIMB Classic and a T-60 at the WGC-HSBC Champions ended 2016 on a sour note. In January, it looked as though Reed was getting back on track, as he tied for sixth at the SBS Tournament of Champions. He followed that up with a tie for 12th at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Then the wheels fell off.

Patrick Reed
Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports /

In eight solo stroke-play events since then, Reed has just one top-25 finish, compared to three missed cuts and three finishes of 59th or worse. During this stretch, his actual scoring average was 71.846. When you’re hoping just to hit par on the PGA Tour, that’s a recipe for disaster.

Reed recognized the need to make changes fast. Most notably, Reed says, he’s gone back to his natural instincts when it comes to putting.

"“I decided just to be more of a kind of see and react guy rather than being so technical, and having Kessler [Karain, his caddie] in there and looking at the book and trying to get the perfect line,” said Reed, who is averaging 27 putts per round at Eagle Point this week. “Go back to how I putted in college, kind of just see the putt and go knock it in.”"

That 27 putts per round number is nearly two strokes lower than his season average of 28.83. Many weeks, those eight strokes are the difference between a missed cut and a top-25 finish.

Reed must hold off powerful chasers Sunday at Eagle Point

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Patrick Reed is in the driver’s seat as he enters the final round at the Wells Fargo Championship. However, that doesn’t mean Sunday will be a victory march just yet. The leaderboard is littered with strong contenders that will likely keep the pressure on Reed through the back nine.

White-hot Jon Rahm is just one shot back of Reed at -7, alongside world No. 12 Alex Noren. The foursome of Francesco Molinari, Seung-Yul Noh, Brian Harman and Vaughn Taylor lurk two strokes back. And of course, you can’t sleep on the likes of Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, currently tied for 14th at -4.

There’s a little bit more good news for Reed this morning. The five-year veteran is 3-for-4 in converting 54 hole leads, with a chance to make it four out of five.

Next: PGA TOUR young guns

Reed’s got a little bit of his swagger back this week at Eagle Point. If he closes the deal on Sunday, that could mark a major turning point in a down year.