By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) – Patrick Reed has yet to string together four solid rounds of golf this year and would like to find some consistency before setting off on his Masters title defense next month.
Reed is fresh off a share of 47th place at The Players Championship and only eight days removed from a T-50 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational but for the 28-year-old American there is no need to panic ahead of the April 11-14 Masters.
“I’ve put myself in position and have put some solid rounds together, I just haven’t quite put four out there yet at the same time,” Reed told a pre-Masters conference call on Monday.
“I feel like I’m really close. I feel like I’ve got the bag where I feel really comfortable and confident with it, and now it’s just get some more reps (golf) underneath me and just kind of get ready for Augusta.”
Reed took the golf world by storm with a one-shot victory at last year’s Masters, where he spent much of the week at Augusta National Golf Club under he radar until storming into a two-shot lead after the second round.
The American led by three strokes going into the final round and turned back an early challenge from Rory McIlroy and then held off later charges from Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler to capture his first major title.
The Masters triumph was the most recent of Reed’s six PGA Tour victories and while he knows a win going into the year’s first major would be a welcome boost it is far from necessary.
“It definitely would help but, honestly, I feel like my mindset and state of mind that I’m in right now is better than it was last year at this point,” said Reed.
“I’ve hit golf shots and have done things on the golf course that I feel a little bit more comfortable this year doing than I did last year at this point, but I just need to go out and continue playing to put four rounds together.”
Reed will compete in the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida, starting on Thursday, and then in next week’s World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play event in Austin before setting his sights on Augusta.
While Reed would love to snag a victory ahead of his Masters title defense he insists his main goal is simply to find more consistency in his game before making his way to Augusta.
“The preparations have been going really well. I feel like I am in as good form, if not a better place, than I was last year at this time,” said Reed.
“The big thing is just to continue to build and grow on the things that we’ve been working on — my coach and I and my team and I — throughout the year, and just get ready and kind of get in playing shape for the tournaments coming up.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; editing by Ken Ferris)