When it comes to trash talking, golf is a bit different to most other sports.
This can be partially attributed to the fact that golf has always been, and in many respects still is, a gentleman’s game.
But this can also be largely attributed to the fact that trash talking is simply unnecessary because golf is a sport where it is very easy to identify the best player during any particular tournament or period of time.
The player with the lowest score during any given tournament is the best player that week.
The player who has performed the best against the strongest fields over the past two years is the No. 1 ranked player in the world.
The top players in the game win major championships, which are contested at the toughest golf courses against the best players in the world.
It’s as simple as that.
There can be very little argument made in golf with regards to which player played best during a particular tournament, which player had the best season on tour, which player (or players) is the best during any given generation and even which players would be considered the greatest golfer of all time.
All of this is what made Patrick Reed’s comments during last week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship all the more shocking.
During NBC’s final round coverage of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, it aired an interview from the previous night where Reed told Dan Hicks that he's one of the top golfers in the world:
I firmly believe as well as my swing coach and my whole team that’s behind me that I’m a top-five player in the world. If I do what I’m supposed to and play how I’m supposed to, that if I’m playing the best I can that week than I can’t be beat.
As NBC came back live on the air, Johnny Miller responded by saying “Wow, that is quite the comment,” which is precisely what most of the golf world was thinking at that time.
But Reed was by no means done with his Muhammad Ali impression.
Reed managed to hold off a field of the top players in the world on Sunday afternoon to become the youngest player ever to win a World Golf Championship event.
Plain and simple, Reed was the best player in the field last week, which is why we won the tournament.
But Reed somehow felt the need to tell everyone why he considers himself to be one of the top five golfers in the world and why he believes he cannot be beaten when he is at his best.
During his post-round interview, Reed told NBC:
I’ve won a lot in junior career. Did great things in amateur career. Was 6-0 in match play in NCAAs. Won NCAAs two years in a row. Got third individually one year, and now I have three wins out here on the PGA Tour. I just don’t see a lot of guys that have done that, I mean besides from Tiger Woods of course, and then all the other legends of the game, but it’s just one of those things that I believe in myself, and especially with how I have worked, that I’m one of the top five players in the world. To come out in a field like this and hold on wire to wire, I feel like I’ve proven myself.
First and foremost, Reed has been out on tour for a little over two years now, which is precisely the time period the World Golf Rankings uses to identify the best players in the world.
So, if Reed were truly one of the top five players in the world, well, he would be one of the top five players in the world.
Instead, Reed began the week ranked 44th in the World Golf Rankings, and his win at the WGC-Cadillac Championship moved him up to 20th, which is certainly a far cry from being one of the top five players in the world.
Just as a comparison, 19-year-old Jordan Spieth has been out on tour for only a year and is ranked 13th in the World Golf Rankings. So it is clear that if a player performs well enough, he can certainly move toward the upper echelons of the World Golf Rankings in a very short period of time.
But despite his big win on Sunday afternoon, Reed simply hasn’t performed well enough to be considered a top-five player in the world.
There is no question that Reed is a very talented young golfer, but his comments both before and after his round on Sunday came across as if in his own mind he somehow feels that his accomplishments to date make him some kind of golfing phenom.
But the fact of the matter is that Reed’s performance to date, although very impressive, has certainly not been what one would consider earth-shattering stuff.
Reed will turn 24 years old this August and he has three PGA Tour wins. Two of Reed’s wins came at events with very weak fields, and he has yet to even attend a major championship, let alone win one.
Rory McIlroy is 24 years old, and he has 11 professional wins (six of which came on the PGA Tour), including two major championships.
McIlroy certainly has the resume to run about town telling everyone that he is one of the top players in the world and cannot be beaten when he is at his best.
At 20 years old Reed was still trying to find his way around a college campus, while 20-year-old Spieth has already won a PGA Tour event, was selected to the 2013 U.S. Presidents Cup team and is the 13th-ranked golfer in the world.
Spieth also has the resume to go all Muhammad Ali on the golf world if he so desired.
But the thing is, neither McIlroy nor Spieth, or any of the top players throughout the game’s history for that matter, have ever felt the need to tell everyone how good they are.
Speaking on Golf Central, Arron Oberholser addressed Reed’s comments by saying:
I’ve never heard Tiger Woods talk like that. I’ve never heard Phil Mickelson talk like that. I’ve never heard Jack Nicklaus talk like that. I’ve never heard Mr. Palmer talk like that. I don’t think that Patrick Reed should be talking like that.
Oberholser then went on to say that Reed is “probably going to be teammates with a lot of guys come this September at the Ryder Cup. Those guys are going to have to sit him down, and he’s going to learn quickly that doesn’t play well.”
Miller once again chimed in on Reed’s bold statements during Golf Central’s postgame show with the simplest yet most intelligent comment of the day when he said that Reed “really shouldn't be saying that; he just go do it."
A wise man once told me that the best don’t need to tell everyone they are the best; that their actions will speak much louder than words.
That same wise man also told me that the weak say they can do things; the strong just go out and do it.
Yesterday afternoon it became quite evident that Patrick Reed has yet to receive such wise advice.
Because if he had, he would have simply sat back and let his golf clubs do all the talking that needed to be done.