Thursday, May 17, 2012 Updated: May 19, 12:04 AM ET
Patrick Reed plugging away at Nelson
By Richard Durrett ESPNDallas.com
IRVING, Texas -- At no point during a 9 1/2-hour drive from San Antonio to New Orleans in the middle of the night last month did Patrick Reed or his fiancée and caddie, Justine Karain, wonder whether their crazy golf schedule was worth it.
"It's a tough road, but I think at the end of the day, it feels good when you work really hard to get somewhere," Karain said. "It's important to us."
That much is clear.
Patrick Reed and his fiancée and caddie, Justine Karain, have made a habit of traveling to Monday qualifiers, but the grind has been paying off of late.
Reed is making Monday qualifying a habit, doing it in four consecutive non-invitational PGA Tour events. In the first three, he also managed to make the cut. He took an important step Thursday by making the cut at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, shooting a 1-under 69. A good round Friday, and Reed could once again earn a check this weekend.
He's starting to inch his way toward the top 150 on the money list, which would get him conditional status on the PGA Tour next season.
"I have no status, so we're playing for the status," said Reed, who always talks about his career journey as "we," since Karain has just as much invested in it as he does. "If I play my game, I can be out here. I know that. A lot of the people that are behind me have told me that as well, and that builds my confidence."
Just after playing the final round of the Valero Texas Open in April, Reed and Karain quickly packed a few things, jumped in the car, and raced to the site of another Monday qualifier for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
"We got to New Orleans at 2:45 in the morning, and the wake-up call came at 6:45," said Karain, a 25-year-old nurse who caddies for Reed. "We made it on adrenaline."
Reed shot 4-under par, was in a playoff and got in on the second hole of sudden death. He then made the cut at the Zurich Classic, before getting on a plane to head to Greenville, N.C. He got up the next morning for yet another Monday qualifier.
This is how Reed, who lives in Houston, is making his living these days. And it isn't easy. But the 21-year-old, with a huge assist from Karain, is traveling to every PGA Tour event that isn't an invitational and trying to qualify that Monday. So far, he's doing a very good job of it.
Reed did get one reprieve from the Monday qualifying grind just prior to the Texas Open, when he and Karain were pulled off the third hole thanks to a last-minute sponsor's exemption. Reed took advantage, making the cut and finishing tied for 35th.
At the Zurich Classic, Reed said he was unable to get anything going until his final nine, when he shot 5-under for the last eight holes to vault to 24th.
"At least after that we could fly to the next event, but we still got in at 1:15 Monday morning and had to qualify that day," said Reed, who turned pro nearly a year ago after helping Augusta State to back-to-back NCAA golf championships.
As Reed looked over a birdie putt on his last hole that day to get into the Wells Fargo Championship, he thought it was going to break left.
"I was hitting the ball great but wasn't putting very well," Reed said. "I had 15 feet and thought it was breaking left. Justine made the perfect read. She said it was breaking right. I wasn't putting [well] so I said, 'I'll go with your read.' I made it and got in without a playoff. If I hadn't made it, it would have been an 11-man playoff for three spots."
Reed made his third straight cut and finished tied for 32nd. After watching The Players Championship on TV, Reed came to Dallas to qualify for the Nelson. He played a practice round at Lantana on Sunday and then had one of his best days on a golf course Monday when it counted.
He had eight birdies and no bogeys on his way to 64 and a three-shot win in the qualifier.
"That was special," Reed said.
Now, his goal is to shoot a couple of good rounds to see whether he can put himself in the top 10, which would automatically qualify him for the next non-invitational event -- the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June.
"I need for it to all come together that one week," Reed said. "I know I can do it."
If he can handle the pressure of Monday qualifiers, don't bet against him if he gets in contention on Sunday.