Since winning the World Golf Championships—Cadillac Championship at Miami's Trump National Doral, 23-year-old Patrick Reed has been called arrogant and cocky. Some have simply called him confident.
All these labels are, of course, in retort to how Reed classified himself following his big victory, when he stated that he feels like "one of the top five players in the world."
A 23-year-old with only three tour victories coming out with an outlandish statement like this? The golf community was astonished. Some took Reed's words as disrespectful to the veterans in the game who have been winning for years. Others found him to be necessarily confident, as golf is, after all, an individualistic mental game.
Fellow PGA Tour golfer Arron Oberholser perhaps summed up the situation best in two tweets:
I believe there is a fine line between confidence and cockiness and there is a proper way to walk that line like all great players do.......— Arron Oberholser (@ArronOberholser) March 10, 2014
Patrick Reed will learn how to walk that line. This game has a way of humbling you whether you need it or not.— Arron Oberholser (@ArronOberholser) March 10, 2014
Ah, if only all things in life can be summed up in two tweets. At 39, Oberholser is, amazingly, old enough to be Reed's illegitimate father, and it's clear that the extra 16 years on Earth have provided Oberholser with some eloquent wisdom.
All debating and joking aside, the facts remain the facts, and one fact is that Reed has won three PGA Tour events in only 14 starts: this past weekend's conquest, the Wyndham Championship last August, and the Humana Challenge this past January, where he shot 63 in the first three rounds en route to winning by 28 strokes.
Reed will, without question, suffer setbacks, injuries and adversity throughout his career. He'll have awful losses and make plenty more statements that he might want to take back. Every golfer will, regardless of their prowess, maturity or public opinion. (see: Woods, Tiger)
The other fact after this past weekend and heading into the prime-time of this golf season is that Reed is what I call MAH™.
Oh, you've never heard of that acronym that I just made up and fraudulently trademarked? Well, it stands for "Marketable as Hell," and in Layman's terms, that is what Reed is—making him the perfect American answer to Rory McIlroy.
Three Characteristics of "Marketable as Hell" (MAH™) Golfers
Let me get the boring and obvious out of the way first. To be a marketable golfer, talent is a must. For a company to pay a golfer millions of dollars to wear a polo or hat with their logo stitched on, they must have confidence that that golfer will perform well while donning their branded attire and that middle-aged men watching on TV will choose FedEx for their future shipping needs as a result.
Similarly, companies who make golf clubs, such as Nike, Calloway, or any of the many others, will only endorse talented players. Golf fans are some of the most gullible in all of sports, for they mistakenly believe that with practice and the right gear and equipment, they can play as well as the pros on TV.
Given that Reed is already sponsored by Callaway and TaxSlayer.com, as per his official website, GoTeamReed.com, I am just stating the obvious here.
2. Room for (Physical) Improvement
Bravo to all those who stay in immaculate physical shape from the time they turn 18 until they officially reach middle-age. Most of us, however, need a little conditioning here and there to pack on a little muscle or shed a little fat.
Rory made waves last year when he showed off a bulked-up physique in Men's Health. The Northern Irishman, who was lanky and boyish when he blew the 2012 Masters Tournament in spectacular fashion, replaced some skinny fat for muscle and began going out in with the beautiful tennis-superstar Caroline Wozniacki.
Goofy and boyish to suave and masculine in under a year—Patrick Reed could make a similar transition.
As has been noted by numerous Twitter buffoons, Reed is a bit chunky.
Patrick Reed needs to lose weight— JG MadSportTalk (@JonnersGunning) March 13, 2014
Whether it be some leftover puberty weight or a few too many beverages and treats before bed, he would benefit in more ways than one from dropping a few pounds. His game may improve, (not drastically, if at all, but maybe a bit) he will feel and be healthier, and, most importantly, magazines and companies will want to get behind him and run features like they're going out of style.
Reed has great charisma, a personality worth quoting and a beautiful young wife; if he can drop just five or ten pounds they will find the way to make the story compelling and feel-good.
3. The Ability to Polarize
Lastly, a component for marketability in not only golf but any sport or entertainment career, is the ability to polarize.
While any athlete wants to have the majority of the public on their side, critics can be just as vital assets to success as supporters. It's commonly said that "any publicity is good publicity," and unless Reed starts getting caught with hookers and hard drugs on the Vegas strip, I think this statement will hold true for him.
With his bold comments following his big victory at Doral, Reed proved that he has the ability to be a captivating and polarizing figure, capable of sparking debates and collecting large swaths of both lovers and haters.
Reed's tendency to polarize golf fans can set him apart from McIlroy, his European counterpart. At first he may have more critics, but he ultimately has the power to prove those critics wrong and nothing is more valuable to a golfer's career than a victory off the course.
A Rivalry in the Making?
I don't think I'm alone in my wishing that Reed lives up to his early-season hype this year and truly becomes the American equivalent of McIlroy. Professional golf is in dire need of young players who can get the ratings that we've seen the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els command for the last 15 years.
A Reed-McIlroy rivalry for years to come could not only bolster PGA television ratings, but it has the ability to expose a whole new generation to the sport of golf. These two young men, both wickedly talented and just the right bit untamed, could lead professional golf into a new era.
Here's to hoping that this isn't the last we hear from Patrick Reed, both on and off the course.
Joe Rapolla Jr. wishes he could play professional golf. He writes about it instead for Bleacher Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell him how good he looks.