JERSEY CITY — Patrick Reed always has been a grinder, the type to battle a slump in his golf game by playing more golf.
That all changed after he missed the cut in the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. He chose to reset, to get away from it all in a tried-and-true way: with a vacation in the Hamptons.
He attributed his win Sunday in the Northern Trust at Liberty National — the FedEx Cup playoffs opener — to the break he took on the East End three months ago. “We rented a house: nine acres, perfectly manicured grass, 310 yards by 50 yards long. We’d wake up in the morning, go out there and run around, play tag, play Frisbee, whatever. Just kind of hang out and do whatever they wanted to do. It’s kind of crazy how fast 10 days go with little ones,” said the father of two, who couldn’t wait to get home with the Northern Trust trophy.
Reed was the most poised amid a crowd of leaders late Sunday afternoon, making birdies on the par-3 14th hole and par-4 16th to help him overcome a two-stroke deficit to Jon Rahm. He shot 2-under-par 69 to finish at 268 for a one-shot win over Abraham Ancer (69). Rahm (69) and Harold Varner III (68) were two shots back.
It was Reed’s second victory in this event, having won when it was known as the Barclays at Bethpage in 2016, and his first win anywhere since the 2018 Masters.
The champion said he was rejuvenated after that break in late May, when he kept his clubs in their traveling case for 10 days. “When I got to Bethpage, I just felt like I didn’t have any speed, nothing was going right. I felt like I was doing a lot of things right, but every time I looked up, the ball was going in different directions,” Reed said, adding that his “team” told him to take a break. It is no secret that the most influential voice on the team is his wife, Justine.
He felt his game coming back with four days of golf at the end of that two-week Hamptons vacation. Reed and friend Jimmy Dunne, a Shinnecock Hills member, played Shinnecock, National Golf Links of America, Friar’s Head and Atlantic Golf Club. “I almost felt like I had a power surge. I was hitting it in bunkers I didn’t think I could get to. I was hitting irons farther than I thought,” Reed recalled.
On Sunday, he channeled some of that energy and freedom. “I was playing the shot, not the swing,” he said.
Reed, known for his triumphs for the United States in team events, was energized by the gallery’s chants of “Captain America” and by the sight of the Statue of Liberty. His birdie on 14 followed Rahm’s bogey on the same hole and might have caused Rahm’s bogey on 15. Then he had to hold off Ancer, who birdied 16 and 17.
The day seemed like a victory for Ancer, who clinched the honor of being the first Mexican player to make the international Presidents Cup team and earned a trip to Augusta. It also was a productive weekend for Varner, who put himself in excellent position for one of the 30 spots in the Tour Championship the week after next.
Bethpage Black had been a turning point for Varner, too. He didn’t play well in the final group on the last day at the PGA, but he gained from the experience. “I learned a lot: I’m capable, I had a chance,” he said Sunday after the best finish of his PGA Tour career.
Still, the day belonged to Reed, who sort of envisioned this on the first hole after his hiatus. On the short No. 1 at National Golf Links, he was wary about being rusty. “I hit driver to 6 feet, knocked it in for an eagle,” he recalled, “and I said, ‘OK, this is a good start.’ ”