Patrick Reed just trying to get out of own way – and hit more fairways

ORLANDO, Fla. – It’s no secret that Patrick Reed isn’t playing the type of golf he wants to be playing right now.

Reed entered this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational on the backs of two straight missed cuts. He hasn’t posted an official top-10 finish since October when he tied for second in Bermuda. He’s slipped to No. 28 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Statistically, he ranks near the bottom in every major strokes-gained category.

The diagnosis?

“It’s just kind of getting out of my own way,” Reed said after an opening even-par 72 Thursday at Bay Hill. “I’ve been thinking so much about swing and so much about technique that I’ve kind of gotten away from being who I am, just playing golf and hitting golf shots.”

Reed has never ranked that high with the longer clubs, doing most of his damage with one of the best short games in the world. But he’s reached new lows in both strokes gained off-the-tee and approach. He’s No. 203 in each category, ahead of only eight players. And in trying to figure out the long game, his other strokes-gained stats have suffered – he’s 93rd and 65th around the green and putting, respectively, down from seventh and fourth last season.

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He’s also lost some distance, down about 5 yards in driving average (286.2 yards from 291.4 last season), though Reed contends that it’s hard to maximize distance when you’re missing fairways. He’s hit just 58.61% this season compared to 63.21% a season ago.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

“Let’s be honest, if you’re not landing the ball in the fairway, the ball’s not going to go its normal yardage,” said Reed, who signed with PXG at the start of the year, though didn’t make a huge equipment overhaul as he only plays the company’s driver and started using it last fall, including during his strong week in Bermuda. “If you hit a drive, especially out here, and you land it in the rough on any of these holes compared to the fairway you’re costing yourself 15, 20, 30 yards depending on what hole it is. It’s just not hitting fairways. Of course, some of them might not be great contact or not fully solid, but my biggest thing is just not landing the ball in the short grass.”

Reed averaged 285.1 yards with the driver on Thursday, and he hit just half of the 14 fairways. However, as Reed points out, he caught one a little thin at the par-5 16th and still hit the tee shot 317 yards to set up one of three birdies. He also chipped in on the par-3 seventh after holing a 12-footer for birdie on the previous hole.

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“I started getting back into it a little bit today,” Reed said, “kind of feeling more like myself, just trying to hit different shots rather than sitting there like, alright, you need to put the club in this position or that position.”

With the Players next week and the Masters on the horizon, more feels like that would be more than welcomed by Reed.

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