Reed got an early education at Augusta National

Patrick Reed leads the Masters after two rounds with a score of 9-under par.

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Patrick Reed leads the Masters after two rounds with a score of 9-under par.

The Augusta National that Patrick Reed knew as an amateur is not the same course he knows as a professional.

Turns out it makes a big difference when you play the home of the Masters.

Reed had a chance to play the course he called “golf’s heaven” while at Augusta State (now Augusta University), where he led the Jaguars to national championships in 2010 and 2011. It was earlier in the year when he played the famed course. It’s April when he now plays it at the Masters.

“The golf course was so long when we played during college because it was always pretty cool and cold so the ball just wasn’t traveling,” Reed said after he stood at 9 under par and was the second-round leader at the Masters on Friday. “The fairways were softer so the ball wasn’t running. The shortest club I hit into No. 11 was a hybrid. You just don’t see that here now.

“My first Masters I got here and I was like ‘Man, this golf course is going to be so long, so hard.’ Then all of a sudden you hit some tee shots and you are like ‘Wow, I can get to the par-5s. I can get to some of these holes.’ Now, all of a sudden, it wasn’t the length that was the issue, it was the greens were a lot firmer and faster. I had to figure out the greens.”

Reed was back in Georgia, home of his two college teams, for his fifth Masters. Reed was dismissed from the University of Georgia golf team after one season. He transferred to Augusta State and had much success as the tiny school won back-to-back national titles, including a win in the 2011 finals over Georgia. Reed closed out the second title with a 2 and 1 victory over Harris English, his former teammate, in the final match as a senior. English, Russell Henley and Hudson Swafford were members of that Georgia team and now are on the PGA Tour.

“When I was coming to Augusta State, the coach always preached to me that we just needed one more really good player because they had Henrik (Norlander) and they had some solid three, four and five guys. But they needed that one extra spark. … Our one-two punch could hang with anyone in the nation.”

Reed is growing increasingly comfortable at the Masters. His first four tournaments went Cut, T-22, T-49, Cut. He had never shot a round in the 60s. He finds himself at the top of the leaderboard after rounds of 69 and 66 thanks, in large part, to his length. Reed has birdied all eight par-5’s so far this week. He considers taking advantage of those holes a necessity to win here. He is 10th in driving distance (301.2 yard average) and tied for fifth in fairways hit (23 of 28, 78.57 percent). That has translated on the greens, where Reed is tied for first with just 51 putts over the first 36 holes, with a single three-putt.

“The more you get to play out here, the more comfortable you get with the golf course, the more you kind of find little subtleties and nuances that you need to know about.”

Reed’s education at Augusta National started years ago, but he’s on the verge of some real higher learning this week.