It took Patrick Reed almost no time to get a true feeling for what it is like to be a major champion. The night after he won the Masters, he was on celebrity row at a Knicks game, sitting near Chris Rock, Michael Strahan and the rapper 2 Chainz. At halftime, the latter reached over, touched the green jacket and asked Reed, “So, is this the real thing?’
“I was like, ‘Yeah, it is.’ He’s like, ‘That’s cool,’ ” the golfer said.
Reed arrives at Shinnecock Hills this week with all intentions of proving he is the real thing, too. Obviously, he is the only one with a chance this year to win the single-season Grand Slam.
“The big thing is you have to go out there and work hard and not let up,” he said. “Just because you’ve won the Masters doesn’t mean you’ve made it and you’re done. You’ve got to move forward. You do that, and none of this complacency will ever set in, and you’re able to go out there and hopefully fulfill all of your dreams.”
“I’ve never won a U.S. Open,” he said.
Given Long Island fans’ history of going against the grain (adopting Phil Mickelson when he was an underdog), there is a chance Reed will be embraced more in Southampton than he was in Augusta, where most people cheered for anyone but the one who won.
He already has won over celebrity row at Madison Square Garden, having been pulled into selfies. “So now,” the Masters champion said, “I have a picture of myself in the green jacket with 2 Chainz next to me.”
In a major switch from the days when spectators were asked to check their cell phones at the gate at the Open, phones are allowed now, even encouraged. The U.S. Golf Association has produced a U.S. Open app that will offer tips to spectators about where the best action is on the course . . . Speculation among local golf cognoscenti says that the greens on the par-3 seventh and 11th holes will be made deliberately a touch slow to avoid the chance of putts sliding off the surface entirely . . . Forecasts suggest the weather will be good, mostly to partly sunny and in the 70s. Projected winds, though, are only in the 10 miles per hour range, which could rob the course of its best defense.
Scott Ford, teaching pro at Glen Oaks Club, never will forget the set of irons that won him the 1982 Florida Junior Championship because his grandfather had given them as a gift. Those irons were his grandfathers’ old set, cut down. They happened to be the ones with which Doug Ford won the 1955 Masters.
The elder Ford died recently at 95. He had been the oldest surviving Masters champion and continued to play at Augusta for many years. In l988, his grandson caddied for him.
“Even as a young professional, when I was playing the Canadian Tour, I would caddie for him when he was on the Champions Tour,” Scott said at the U.S. Open qualifier at Canoe Brook Monday. “You learn a lot of shots. Mostly what you learn is his competitiveness, his toughness. That generation of guys was different. They played all the time, they had to grind it out.”
Tribute to Torrey
There will be a poignant touch this year at the local golf outing that is the de facto annual Islanders reunion. Sons of the late general manager Bill Torrey have been invited, said Joe McMahon, the former team equipment manager who organizes the Lee and Aidan McMahon Outing in memory of his late mother and son. It will be held at Middle Island Country Club on June 16.
Twenty-eight Islanders alumni are expected, many of them having been drafted or acquired by the executive who died last month. On the day of Torrey’s death, McMahon’s phone buzzed continuously from former players wanting to know how they could pay tribute. They will get a chance to do that to the Torreys in person.
Openings for golf are still available and donations are being accepted at lam-foundation.com.