PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Despite missing the cut at the Valspar Championship, Patrick Reed stayed overnight in the Tampa area and returned to the Innisbrook driving range Saturday afternoon for a second session with instructor David Leadbetter.
The Masters champ is struggling, with his title defense just around the corner. He followed a final-round 78 at TPC Sawgrass with scores of 77-75 to miss the cut by nine shots on the Copperhead Course. Reed and Leadbetter had not met prior to their lesson ahead of Reed’s second-round tee time, a rendezvous that was sparked when Reed’s wife and former caddie, Justine, placed a call on Reed’s behalf to Leadbetter after the opening round.
Leadbetter told GolfChannel.com Saturday that their return for another meeting was based on how Reed received their initial encounter, which lasted more than an hour.
“It was really a case of, hey, he wanted to see how it felt yesterday, and he said, ‘Listen, I like the taste of this. I want more,’” Leadbetter said. “So we said OK.”
Leadbetter shared that the two worked on shortening Reed’s swing as well as adjusting his setup, the latter of which he described as “the easiest thing” to change in the swing.
Despite missing the Valspar cut, Patrick Reed stuck around for another session with Leadbetter. Said last night that he’s still with longtime coach Kevin Kirk and is only using Leadbetter because he’s in town. pic.twitter.com/KlVXXnePOa
— Will Gray (@WillGrayGC) March 23, 2019
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“He seems pretty comfortable and confident with it,” Leadbetter said. “It’s slightly different from what he was doing, but not a lot. Listen, the guy’s a world-class player. The Masters is coming up. I mean, you’re not going to reform the whole swing. That would be ridiculous. So we just sort of added a couple little things, mainly with the setup.”
Reed has five top-25 finishes in nine worldwide starts this season, and his missed cut at Innisbrook was his first since the PGA Championship in August. But he hasn’t cracked the top 10 since the WGC-HSBC Champions in November. He currently ranks 116th on Tour this season in strokes gained: off-the-tee and 147th in strokes gained: approach.
Reed declined an interview request following Saturday’s range session, but he spoke after the second round and expressed confidence in the progress he made with Leadbetter during their initial meeting.
“I feel like we found some things that will help in the long run,” Reed said. “It’s just, it’s hard to incorporate literally on the spot when you are teeing off that same day.”
Reed explained that the call to Leadbetter was simply based on geographical proximity, since Leadbetter lives in the area and was already out on the course this week, working with Rafa Cabrera-Bello. According to Reed, his sessions with Leadbetter do not impact his relationship with longtime swing coach Kevin Kirk, who is based in Texas.
“KK and I are really close,” Reed said Friday. “That has nothing to do with it. Just trying to improve and get better every day.”
Leadbetter will not attend next week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, where Reed will be in the 64-man field. But he believes the match-play format might be just what Reed needs as he sorts out his ball-striking woes: a style of play where a wayward drive or double bogey mean losing one hole instead of two or three strokes.
“We added a couple little things in, said some things a couple of different ways,” Leadbetter said. “He’s got the plan now, he really likes what he’s doing. So we’ll see how it goes from here.”