Reed making rest of golf believe, too

There were no significant shake-ups Tuesday in the Patrick Reed World Ranking, where Patrick Reed once again stood out as the player to watch.

Reed didn’t take it back, not one word, nine days after he won at Doral and had the audacity to declare himself among the top five golfers on the planet.

He did not retreat to a position of safety, back to some publicist’s Teflon-sided bunker.

Didn’t say: “Oh, gosh, I’m lucky to be out here with all these terrific guys. And I apologize in advance for any divot I may take on Mr. Palmer’s magnificent course.”

What he did say in his pre-Arnold Palmer Invitational news conference — yes, Reed is now one of those important players asked to advance a tournament — was in keeping with his original theme:

“You know, when it comes down to it, that’s what I believe in, and that’s how I see myself as a player. But you have to have that belief in yourself. If you don’t, then you’re not going to play like it, and you’re definitely not going to be contending on Sundays.”

Just a little over four years ago he was a Georgia Bulldogs outcast, who played in three events before washing out. Reed moved 100 miles to Augusta State (now Georgia Regents University) and helped win two national championships, out-dueling Georgia’s Harris English to clinch the second.

He survived six rounds of Q-school to win his PGA Tour playing privileges last year and with his wife as a caddie, embarked boldly on his career. He missed seven cuts in his first 11 events. A year ago he was 376th in the world ranking — those recognized by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, not the ones in his head.

There, that is a thumbnail bio, not exactly the kind of soil from which a mighty redwood grows.

Yet it is amazing how a fellow’s stature changes once he wins three Tour events before the age of 24 (only Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia did it before Reed). All those for Reed came within a 14-tournament span. Three-for-14 — that’s a .214 average, a golfer hitting 30 points higher than did B.J. Upton last season.

With a face as round as his Calloway Speed Regime 3 golf ball, only less dimpled, Reed is the new coverboy of golf. His actual world ranking is now 20th, with a bullet.

The fact that such adjectives as “brash” and “bold” are migrating his way doesn’t hurt his profile either. Any hint of personality lights up like a Vegas marquee on this Tour, where a fist-pump is the equivalent of a buck-naked end-zone touchdown celebration.

When Reed wore red and black on the Sunday of Doral it wasn’t in tribute to the Bulldogs. Those colors had been reserved for Tiger Woods for years, his Sunday trademark. For someone else to adopt them was like a Braves rookie coming out of the dugout wearing No. 10.

Reed has no intention of moving off that color scheme. “I know (Woods) owns those colors, but they work for me,” he said. “I’m very superstitious as it is.”

All the Tour’s new stars are all the spawn of Woods in one way or another, only the 23-year-old Reed seems to want to directly channel him every week. On the practice range he would slide down toward the end where Woods warmed up, just to feel the buzz around him. Growing up, what Reed appreciated most about Woods was the way the whole world stopped to watch him when he was in contention and how he thrived on that.

“I’ve worked really hard on becoming mentally strong and not letting the things around me distract me as much,” he said. “That’s something (Woods) has been amazing at. And that’s something I’ve tried to take from him.”

How some guys do bite their tongues bloody when the subject turns to the next big thing in golf.

Like when his short-time coach at Georgia, Chris Haack, answered the question about what happened back in Athens: “It didn’t turn out to be a very good fit, and we just decided to go in a different direction,” he said.

Or when FedEx Cup champion and world’s No. 3 Henrik Stenson followed Reed in the interview room Tuesday and was asked about the top-five stuff: “I think it’s very natural that you’re feeling confident if you won three times in a short period of time. And obviously he feels like he belongs up there when he’s playing well. And if he keeps on winning another couple of times I’m sure he’s going to be in the top five. Time will tell.”

Pause. Then Stenson added, “Is that a good political answer? Thank you.”

If thinking he is among the best alienates Reed from the rest of the clubhouse, it is a risk he is willing to take. Although he can’t conceive of that.

“I wouldn’t think it would rub anyone the wrong way just for the fact that people now know what I believe and what my goals are,” he said.

There is maybe one little thing that separates Reed from some of the other top players. Like winning a major. Or even playing in one.

The Masters in three weeks will be his first. He will return to the city to which he helped deliver two NCAA titles. No parade is scheduled.

Reed played Augusta National three times while in school, but never once the way he really wanted to.

“It’s still a golf course I’d love to play barefoot because there’s not a single thing misplaced on that whole golf course. It’s amazing,” he said.

“I’ve played nine holes at Pebble (Beach) barefoot because once I had such bad blisters that I literally couldn’t wear my shoes. Hopefully I can use that excuse one time at Augusta when I’m playing for fun.”

The membership has been put on alert. For when this guy says something, he generally backs it up.